Home > Chicago, Photography, Sculpture, Uncategorized > “Color Jam” by Jessica Stockholder

“Color Jam” by Jessica Stockholder

I visited another State Street art installation downtown which has been up for a while.  Color Jam by Jessica Stockholder went up June 5th and will be in place until September 30th.  It brings colors together at the intersection of State & Adams from several storeys up on the buildings to underfoot on the ground level.  I liked EYE by Tony Tasset [2010] and loathed GO DO GOOD by Kay Rosen [2011].  Color Jam falls somewhere in the middle for me; it is an installation art work but heavily informed by design / graphic design.  People assume it is some kind of advertising campaign and filter it out or are confused by it.  With Color Jam there are not enough of the signifiers of “fine art” to alert the public to what they are standing on and walking through.

EYE was a self-portrait Pop art sculpture and clearly a statue or sculpture in the round.  people got it right away.  GO DO GOOD just imitated advertising obnoxiously.  Forever Marilyn by Seward Johnson was obnoxious sentimental Pop art schlock that taggers eventually defaced.  Color Jam jams together colors, but does that automatically make it art when the public needs to be told it is art?

What sums up the piece for me best is the two women shown above walking next to me that started looking around bewildered and exclaimed in surprise at the intersection.  They were obviously local and familiar with the area, they just didn’t understand what was going on and were very confused.  Red and orange is usually used to signal danger, construction hazards and the like; they were starting to get worried.  I told them they were standing in an art installation.  They looked around again and decided they liked it.  One woman said “I wish it was permanent!  It’s fun!”

In the other photos I took, you can see people ignoring the installation or looking around in confusion.  Leave it to a lot of Contemporary art to provide confusion.  This is why so many people want their art left on a canvas, preferably with a nice frame.  Again, that is why doing work like this is taking a risk: the loss of the signifiers of fine art that alert the general public they have encountered “art”.

Here pictures of the other corners.  I noticed Bank of America did not allow any covering or interference with its sign.  Sarcasm time: I bet they were real cooperative with this art installation.  This may have also helped people read the art installation as a form of large scale advertising.  There is a huge bank sign jutting out in the work, interrupting the green color field.

The colors on the crosswalks of the streets already have a substantial amount of wear and tear.  It was a bit disappointing to see how worn away the colors were but that is a high traffic area of downtown.  I don’t know if there is a schedule to refresh the colors on the streets and sidewalks or if it will continue to be worn down on through September.  That seemed to be a key part of the installation, tying the colos together on the ground, and the material is in poor condition.  The photo below shows how the color fields connect along with more information on the piece and the artist:

Photo by Kevin Shelton / Chicago Loop Alliance

The Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) is at it again.  The organization behind Tony Tasset’s memorable EYE and CARDINAL (2010) and Kay Rosen’s interactive GO DO GOOD (2011) is bringing a whole lot of color to Chicago this summer.  Chicagoans have been watching the initial phases of Jessica Stockholder’s Color Jam installation slowly start to transform the loop during the install process for the past few weeks, and tomorrow, June 5 is the official opening date for the third installment in the CLA’s award-winning Art Loopseries.

Visitors will be immersed in the bright, new installation at State and Adams as they walk on, in, and through the canvas of renowned multi-media artist Jessica Stockholder.  Commissioned by CLA, Color Jam saturates building façades, sidewalks, and crosswalks in bold colors in Chicago’s largest art installation.  Color Jam is also the largest contiguous vinyl project in the U.S., composed of over 76,000 square feet of colored vinyl – think the equivalent of 50,000 vinyl records, or enough material to wrap 130+ city buses or cover 1.5 football fields!  [source]

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