Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Art Under Glass: 'Glass' roots movement
Like many communities, the city has a public arts program, setting aside funds on large projects for works of public art.
But the Art Under Glass program -- which sprang up literally in response to the need to brighten up otherwise vacant storefronts -- is a true "grass-roots" movement, said Jeff Cory, Cultural Arts/Arts Center director for the city, who joined others Tuesday in a tour of the downtown art exhibit.
Cory and other community members were actually taking in the third phase of the movement, as Art Under Glass backers were to lead them on a tour of 1500 Maple Ave.
Along that strip, the featured works are the products of students from District 65 schools as well as Evanston Township High School.
Community members previously toured storefronts along the 1600 block of Orrington Avenue and the 700 block of Church Street, where works of local artists are displayed in the windows of empty storefronts.
The program was the work of the Arts Council's Arts and Business Committee. At the time the program was started, a controversial move to erect a high-rise (first proposed at 49 stories) had been approved.
Tenants began leaving the 708 Church Street building as the faltering economy made the building's future unclear, and the city granted developers a five-year extension.
From a kind of novelty at the start, the selection process is now a juried one, "with competition to get in the windows," said Paul Giddings, a committee member and owner of FolkWorks Gallery.
At the same time -- despite the building standstill -- people walk by and say "the area looks so much better," he said.
Added Cory, "it's a really nice addition to downtown. The city is a lot more energized and cheerful to see artwork in a window (rather) than walking down the street seeing empty storefronts."