The Mesa Arts Center announced on July 28 that it has selected the popular artist Cecil Balmond to design a special project for the city’s biggest downtown attraction. “The Cloud” will be a suspended shade sculpture connecting the center with Main Street.
Balmond is a world-renowned artist who has done other work for municipalities. Perhaps his most recognizable work is the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower in London, designed with Anish Kapoor for the 2012 London Olympics.
The shade sculpture will be part of the 21st Century Café Society project, which consists of three different art spaces designed to liven up a previously empty area near the Mesa Arts Center, including of a pavilion and performance stage, and, in the future, an interactive art piece to be designed by an artist in tandem with input from the community.
The design of “The Cloud” will incorporate tensile fabric to match the center’s existing sails, columns, and specially coated glass that will cast shadows of differing colors depending upon the position of the sun. The sculpture will be suspended in a cloudlike manner and closely mirror the existing design of the center.
“I wanted to create an environment that changes your perception of space and is completely capable of being used for different purposes, in alignment with Mesa Arts Center’s needs,” said Balmond in a statement.
The design was chosen by a panel out of a group of three artists who were invited to submit designs. Balmond will develop his design to the halfway point and then accept feedback and discuss ideas with the community, after which the design plans will be used to garner interest in fundraising for the north plaza of the center, which will include the sculpture and the other parts of the 21st Century Café Society project.
“Balmond’s design for the shade sculpture … will create enhanced pedestrian interest, particularly given its location opposite a major new light-rail station and across the street from Mesa’s City Hall,” said Cindy Ornstein, executive director of Mesa Arts Center and director of arts and culture for the city of Mesa, in a statement.
Michael Tingley, the original design architect for the Mesa Arts Center and a member of the selection panel for this sculpture, said Balmond’s design was chosen for its sense of intrigue as well as the differing dynamics of day and night display.
“I think that the [selection] panel was looking for a piece that would create a place for people to occupy and … a place that people could come to … a place that would create an environment where different kinds of activities could take place.”
Ornstein said the some parts of the project have been funded by grants but that the sculpture will be paid for, as much as possible, through a fundraising drive. Grants will still be sought but private and corporate donations may play an integral part in the completion of the shade sculpture.
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