February 19, 2010
It's about time for Downtown ...
For Downtown's summer art project this year, it's all about time. Clock-watchers will be all wound up. (Ouch.)
Having run through most of the more attractive mammals (dogs, cats and bears) and other critters (fish, otters and birds) and ...um, stuff (lighthouses, spheres and Adirondack chairs) in the past eight years since the public art project began in 2002, the Downtown Racine Corporation has turned to clocks for this year's public art project.
Big, round clocks. Analog, doncha know.
Participating artists will start with hour and minute hands centered in a large concave disk -- 28 inches in diameter -- and, if history is any guide, turn them into fantastically original artworks. That tell time. The clocks will be made by Fiber-Tech, a Franksville manufacturer who fabricates custom molded composite components. They produced the spheres for Sphere Madness, the 2008 art project.
As usual, artists will submit their suggested designs to DRC; those selected will be made and then displayed around Downtown from June 1 through August before being auctioned off. Artist design packets can be picked up at the DRC, 425 Main St., or downloaded here. The deadline for submissions is March 5. Artists will be given $100 to cover some of their costs. Cash prizes will be awarded at the end of the season to the best-of-show clocks as determined by a panel of judges. The first place winner will receive $2,000; second place, $1,000; and third place, $500.
It will be interesting to see whether the practicality of this year's project -- everyone can use another clock, right? -- will reverse the declining numbers of participants in recent years. The first three years of public art in Racine each drew around 150 artistic representations of the theme (dogs, cats and bears), but that gradually declined (99 fish and otters; 75 birds and birdbaths) and by 2009 we were down to 54 Adirondack chairs.
Of course, artists aren't all the DRC must corral; it also needs donors to pay the $350 cost of each entry. Sponsorship packets can be downloaded here.
In addition to the clocks themselves, there will be a contest seeking a clever name for the public art project -- like last year's Sunny and Chair Summer '09 Tour. Entries are due at DRC's office by March 5; the winner will receive a $50 Downtown Racine gift certificate.
Hurry up; the clock is ticking! (Not really: our clocks will be battery-operated.)
Public art projects like Racine's have their origin in Zurich, Switzerland, where decorated lions, the city symbol, were displayed around the city in 1986. This was followed there by "CowParade: in 1998... an idea quickly copied internationally as a fundraiser by other cities, notably Chicago in 1999. One of Chicago's cows made it to Racine, standing in front of Sam and Gene's Grotto on Main Street.