Public Space One turns outdoor space into snow-proof art display

Each month throughout the winter, Public Space One artists will showcase original pieces on the porch of PS1’s Gilbert St. location.


Tate Hildyard

Local artist, Kelly Clare’s piece, A MODERN APPROACH WILL NOT ONLY PROVIDE DECOYS BUT BREADCRUMBS ALSO is on display outside of Public Space One on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 as part of This Could Get Snowed On. This Could Get Snowed On is a monthly exhibition of large-scale works by local artists, displayed on the front porch of Public Space One.

Morgan Ungs, Arts Reporter

With crowded indoor gallery showings an staple of the pre-pandemic past, Public Space One (PS1), is supporting local artists this winter through an outdoor exhibit, where all the displayed art can be — and is — snowed on.

The idea for the gallery originated after Public Space One volunteers brainstormed how to show outdoor exhibits in the wintertime, said Public Space One Program Director Kamila Strong. The group ultimately decided that the porch on 229 N. Gilbert St. would be a great space that would also invite artists to think more creatively about their work.

Now, each month, an artist will hang up their piece on the porch. The large pieces of fabric — some painted on, some displaying large graphic designs — sway in the chilly air for passerby to enjoy, providing a pop of color to the otherwise white and brown backdrop of winter.

Public Space One Director John Engelbrecht said the outdoor gallery fulfills the organization’s plan to create an outdoor “art park” after their purchase of two historic houses that were transformed into galleries in 2019.

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Strong said the outdoor gallery serves as an opportunity for people to view the artwork as they walk by or drive through the busy intersection near which the house sits.

“It’s a piece for people to engage with like they would a mural or a sculpture and adds a bit more art to the local community,” she said. “It pushes people to expand their thinking about where art can be and what it can look like.”

She said creating hangable, weather-proof art pushes artists to construct a piece that stands out, and that can be snowed upon, or damaged by the winter elements.

The artists were limited to creating something hangable from the porch, but Strong said the challenge still allows artists to explore their creativity by utilizing various types of fabrics and spreading different messages through their pieces.

The first artist to be featured, local Julia J. Wolfe, hung up her piece called “A Thought for Your Walk!” in early December. Her piece consisted of fabric that she painted, cut up, and stitched back together. Then, she painted images on it. The most distinctive images were an apple core and a potted plant.

Wolfe said she hoped to encourage people viewing her art to invest in a potted plant, or something to bring them life during the winter months and after all of the dark events of the past year.

Next to the apple core she included text which explains that passersby can eat its core.

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“It’s a part of our contemporary lifestyle to not eat something or to waste something because it’s not the best tasting or the most useful part of a product,” she said.

The month of January also includes an image of fruit, this time oranges, created by UI graduate student Kelly Clare. She included the quote: “A modern approach will not only provide decoys but breadcrumbs also,” to reflect on how people navigate this season or era, according to the Public Space One website.

Despite the pandemic making gallery showings impossible, Engelbrecht said Public Space One is grateful for the opportunity to showcase art outside its building.

“We’re still in this unknown territory, but we’re thankful for the support,” he said. “We’ve had good fortune to be able to have outdoor spaces to program things this year and show people that there’s still vibrant work being done by artists.”