FLUX: Grant Park
September 27–30, 2018
This is an outdoor event in a park environment. Every attempt has been made to make it as wheelchair friendly as possible.
Giving voice to this historic greenspace
As Grant Park celebrates 135 years, Flux Projects will present a collection of projects by Atlanta artists that give voice to this historic greenspace. Four Atlanta artists have been selected to lead projects: Rachel K. Garceau, Rebecca M.K. Makus, Iman Person, and Lauri Stallings. Their projects will examine the health, history, and ecosystem of the park, while encouraging the public to explore its nooks and crannies, and revel in its sublime beauty.
Projects are intended to enhance visitors’ experience of the park, which provides a source of inspiration and collaboration. As artist Rebecca Makus explained, “The park speaks with a really loud voice…and the way we [the artists] are hearing it overlaps.” This overlap creates a fabric across the park, an interconnectivity mirroring the natural environment in which they are situated. The work is simultaneously a microphone for and a pathway into the spirit of the park.
FLUX: Grant Park extends over four days with focus times on each day and a schedule of events within these times.
A Realm of Reflection
Grant Park is the oldest park in the city of Atlanta, and has a rugged charm that invites the curiosity of history, the wonder of nature, the diversity of community, and the invitation of access. The origin of the public space nicknamed “The People’s Playground” dates back to 1882, and the park occupies a unique place within the local cultural ecosystem.
Against this backdrop of context and with Grant Park as a location, Flux Projects produced a multi-day site-specific iteration of its public art programming—simply titled, FLUX: Grant Park. The project invited participating artists to create work that spoke to the history and landscape of Grant Park, while welcoming the public to experience a familiar place with a fresh perspective. From September 27-30, 2018, FLUX: Grant Park featured temporary art installations throughout the park, guided tours, nature walks, artist talks, and more.
Rachel K. Garceau, Rebecca M. K. Makus, Iman Person, and Lauri Stallings served as the lead artists for FLUX: Grant Park, and presented a series of works that encouraged visitors to explore moments of contemplation, connection, investigation and awe. The process of producing these works—“Passage”, “The Toolbox”, “Waterlust”, and “Land Trees and Women”—evolved over the course of several months and allowed the artists to settle into the sheer scale of Grant Park as a place for work and commit to their respective research and art- making processes. This lead time for production—dubbed the “Flux Lab”—also gave the artists time to understand how their approaches to work and space could exist in collaboration over the course of the four-day experience.
The most poignant aspects of FLUX: Grant Park were those that asked the viewer remain open to feeling something new or rare, and to simultaneously share those moments with the public in a communal exercise—to embrace intimacy and vulnerability with nature and the self in the presence of others.
The fleeting spontaneity of these moments is important to acknowledge, as the approach to both producing and witnessing temporary public art may diﬀer from a gallery or museum experience, which often allows for repetitive viewing of work over an extended period time. However, with Public Art—in a Public Park—the awareness of the location, the art, and the individual personal narratives of viewers blend in a peculiar short-lived context. Each visitor brings their presence to that moment, while the space—a park—leaves all of its history bare as an environment for interaction. The resulting experience is a communal taking of account of what we have, who we are, our personal histories, and how we feel in that snapshot; we bring all of that to the art as both a filter and a platform, which—paired with the expectations of the work—ultimately sets up the range of responses to the art and the space in which it exists.
In addition to those personal narratives, the receptiveness to the work also depends on our relation to—or perhaps even a sense of “ownership” of—the space where public art takes place. And even for the participating artists, Grant Park as the location took on a level of introspection and significance.
“Grant Park is a respite for the city of Atlanta. As a piece of public art, I view it as an artwork that is evolving,” says Person. “This public park has given Atlantans the opportunities to transform how they will interact with curated environments in the future, and I think that [FLUX: Grant Park] has the potential to infuse this thinking into how future developments intersect the public with architecture, parks, and innovative mindful public space, granted that they see its viability.”
Solace. Silence. Surprise. Subtlety. Those are just a few of words that come to mind when considering the art installations of FLUX: Grant Park. Each artist and their collaborators presented a diﬀerent type of energy in their work, and required the public to be active participants in a handful of instances.
One such instance was Rachel Garceau’s “Passage,” where the scale and intricacy of the work—a labyrinth whose borders were formed with porcelain stones—matched its contemplative nature. “Passage” forced visitors to pause and proceed, to answer questions only they themselves could answer, and to experience what it meant to have private moments in the presence of others. In addition to “Passage,” Garceau created porcelain forms that temporarily filled voids in the park’s pavement and walkways—momentary spaces for healing, repair, and restoration of the park’s infrastructure. According to Garceau:
“I think the greatest takeaway for me came from some of the responses I received from people as they completed their journey in and out of the labyrinth–I witnessed that by opening up an honest, delicate, and vulnerable space; people who came to experience it were also able to access those qualities within themselves. I shared stories, hugs, and tears with strangers. That is magic. And I don’t take credit for that–I found a beautiful space in a grove of trees in a park in Atlanta, and I simply invited people to take a walk there. The rest of the story is about the people who accepted that invitation. And the fact that so many people did–well, that is the gift to me.”
“The Toolbox”—presented by Rebecca M. K. Makus and her collaborators Elly Jessop Nattinger and Peter A. Torpey—was a performative mix of technology and creativity that intersected with the landscape of Grant Park, and even allowed visitors to participate as makers in a makeshift assembly shop. While some of the daytime activities of “The Toolbox” encouraged individual curiosity that engaged the senses, some of the most memorable moments came at night, where visitors were treated to light spectacles that sparked the imagination and accentuated Grant Park’s design features in fanciful ways.
The clearest acknowledgement of Grant Park’s history came courtesy of Iman Person’s “Waterlust,” which marked and accentuated some of the forgotten waterways of the 144-acre space, and invited visitors to listen, observe, and explore what might have been in days gone by. The installation forced obvious questions about how much of the old version of this park designed by the Olmstead Brothers remains in its current state, and put the relationship between Atlantans and water into a historical context. The expansive nature of a waterway— even one of days past—meant that “Waterlust” covered a unique and sprawling footprint throughout the park while in a static sense.
“Participating in FLUX: Grant Park has further formed my experience of how fluid site- responsive work can respond within the given boundaries of public space,” says Person. “‘Waterlust’ allowed me to explore the concepts of “Space” versus “Place” through the intrinsic history of the park and by having the opportunity to enact my own history with water and ritual, back into the park.”
While “Waterlust” covered the park in a static—or stationary—sense, the movement and migrations of Lauri Stallings and glo via “Land Trees and Women” provided a diﬀerent opportunity for visitors to explore the park in a variety of spaces and places, and with varying perspectives on the body as an instrument in-tune with nature.
Parks often represent places where we get in touch with our bodies, and where we are more aware of the bodies of others—humans and animals alike. “Land Trees and Women” furthered the experience of the context of the body and the park as a location for exploration—often drawing visitors away from walking paths and into green spaces, or interjecting bodies into normal paths and inviting consideration. Over the course of FLUX: Grant Park it became evident that Stallings and the movement artists of glo were challenging their bodies, challenging the viewer’s imagination around their own bodies, and forcing witnesses to further examine the relation between the human body and things we may overlook.
The expanse of Grant Park—Atlanta’s 4th Largest—allowed the lead artists to create individual installations that breathed on their own, yet sparked comfortable moments of spacial collaboration where visitors could see the works in close proximity in certain locations and at special times. While the space worked to the advantage of the artists in most instances, the wide area did provide some challenges for visitors who didn’t expect to traverse such a wide area, or were perhaps less than astute at independently navigating park paths and terrain in search of the art. Perceived another way, however, and this unintended exploration might have created a sense of anticipation for some digital natives who, often with a smartphone as a companion, embraced the challenge of trying to find the real life versions of what was previously seen via social media.
Grant Park, much like Atlanta, is a much diﬀerent place in 2018 than it was in 1883 when it oﬃcially opened with stipulations that “the land should be used for park purposes for all Atlantans,” with no racial restrictions1. And while the history of the park and its place in the lives of Atlantans may change incrementally over the decades, the magic, eﬀort and intent of FLUX: Grant Park brought people together to remind us of what the park has meant, the lives it touches, and the significance of its future as a viable public space in the city.
1 The Grant Park Conservancy. http://www.gpconservancy.org/the-park/history/
Installations by Rachel K. Garceau and Iman Person will be on view at sunrise and run until closing at 6pm on Sunday. Performances and installations by Rebecca M.K. Makus and Lauri Stallings will begin during the day.
Lauri Stallings and glo will have their first people Movement SHOP that morning from 10-11:30am. This is an introduction to moving your body in the language of glo. Think of these as a cross between yoga and movement, plenty of exercise and surprisingly accessible to people of all ages and capacities.
This evening brings opportunities to meet and speak with the artists at their project sites.
The most feature-packed day of the event.
- Photographer and ecologist Kathryn Kolb of EcoAddendum will be leading a tour of the park and discussing the intersection of art and nature at 10:00 am.
- The Grant Park Parents Network is sponsoring a popsicle party for children from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Whitney Stansell, who with her husband Micah has created some of the most memorable Flux Projects to date (large-scale projections), will be leading children on tours of the projects at 10:15, 11:15, and 12:15.
- Lauri Stallings and glo will be back with a people Movement SHOP at 10:00 am.
- Rachel K. Garceau will have meditations through her labyrinth at 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30 pm. (Additional times on each day.)
- Rebecca M.K. Makus and her collaborators will have the highest concentration of installations on view that day.
- FLUX VIP Lounge will be open from noon to 6:00 pm.
- VIP Cocktail Party will take place at Ziba’s from 4:00–6:00 pm.
The Grant Park Farmers Market is open weekly on Sundays 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. This is a great day for a picnic in the park and a leisurely exploration of the projects.
Lauri Stallings will be giving a talk at 2:00 pm.
Installations for Iman Person and Rachel K. Garceau continue.
Rebecca M.K. Makus and her collaborators will perform a de-installation of their projects from 3:00–6:00 pm.
As day moves into the golden hour, FLUX: Grant Park will come to a close.
- If you want to spend a day in the park, you can also visit Zoo Atlanta.
- For children there is a great playground in the center of the park within view of many of the project sites.
- The Atlanta Preservation Society, located in the historic Grant Mansion, will be open Saturday from noon – 5pm. This is the group that presents Phoenix Flies each March.
- Oakland Cemetery is just a few blocks away.
- Eventide Brewing is also in the neighborhood.
- Bennett’s Market & Deli can make a great picnic lunch for the park. You can also pick up snacks and wine.
- For coffee and ice cream check out Grant Park Coffee.
- Ziba’s Restaurant & Wine Bar serves lunch and dinner, with bottomless glasses of wine on Thursday evening and live jazz on Friday & Saturday nights at 8pm and on Sundays at 6pm.
- Dakota Blue is great family dining and as child-friendly as they come.
- Grant Central Pizza & Pasta
- Mediterranea Restaurant & Bakery, which is gluten free, though you would never know from tasting it, has a great rooftop terrace.
- Very close on Memorial are Revelator Coffee (previously Octane, faces Woodward Street), Six Feet Under, Tin Lizzy’s, Ria’s Bluebird Café, Mi Barrio, and a host of new establishments at The Larkin.
- The Beacon has opened at the end of Grant Street (close to what will soon be the south side of the BeltLine), and new restaurants are opening there.
- Gun Show is less than a mile in Glenwood.
- Also in Glenwood is a wonderful little wine shop, 3 Parks Wine.
About Grant Park
Established in 1883, Grant Park is Atlanta’s oldest City Park, and has earned its nickname “The People’s Playground.” Today we go there for the pool, playground, basketball and tennis courts, Zoo Atlanta, Grant Park Recreation Center, Grant Park Farmers Market, and a variety of festivals, to run, walk our dogs, ride bikes, and enjoy the outdoors. Once neglected, Grant Park is being restored as a cherished greenspace through the tireless work of the Grant Park Conservancy.
FLUX: Grant Park is presented by:
BIG FLUX DONORS
Louis Corrigan / Marni & Julian Mohr, Jr. / Lauren & Tim Schrager / Mark Sofge
Martha & Sean Cook / Kristy & Nabil Hammam / Carl Mattison & Rob Smith / Marni & Julian Mohr, Jr. / Brett Oliver / Willson & David Overend / Edith & Michael Rogers / Sharon & Clark Tate / Krystin Tran & Mike Landman / Anna & Ross Zeitz