CREATIVE PEAKS: Outside Imagination

By on June 14, 2016

Artists take over R Park for summer solstice.

If only Bland Hoke would loosen up a bit and harness his creativity. Here he is hanging from PVC pipe similar to the pipe he used to create a pond flute. (Photo: Kiersten Nash)

If only Bland Hoke would loosen up a bit and harness his creativity. Here he is hanging from PVC pipe similar to the pipe he used to create a pond flute. (Photo: Kiersten Nash)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – When was the last time you jumped through a ring of fire, sailed a pirate ship, or whispered poetry into a pond flute?

These are just some of the unique ways people will be invited to interact with their surroundings at this year’s fifth annual R Park Solstice Celebration on Monday, June 20. R Park teamed up with Jackson Hole Land Trust and Jackson Hole Public Art to host FoundSpace, a Land Trust project for which local artists create temporary installations using found objects on conserved public land.

According to Land Trust executive director Laurie Andrews, art plays an important role in engaging the community in land stewardship.

“Art placed in open space asks the whole community to look with fresh eyes to find a deeper conversation with place,” Andrews said.

FoundSpace debuted last year in Karns Meadow and featured both local and visiting artists. This year, four local artists were selected to conceive and install interactive art works for the R Park solstice celebration. Sculptor Ben Roth has three installations in store.

For his first piece, Roth took inspiration from the adventurous spirit of the park itself. He designed a large circular ring from PVC pipe and adorned it with flame-shaped fabric pieces. The “Ring of Fire” will be installed on a creek crossing bridge, perfect for jumping through.

“I like the park’s appreciation of free-form play,” Roth said, noting that the bridge was built without railings and the creek was deepened to allow for ultimate jumping delight.

Big, billowing red curtains will hang at the entrance to the northwest footpath going into the park. Another of Roth’s installations, the curtains will create a sense of entering a special place, perhaps a theater in which entrants are part of the play.

Finally, Roth will install something he calls “an altered manhole cover.” Best to leave the location of the manhole—and where it leads—to readers to discover.

“Interesting art attracts all ages,” Roth said. “It’s a wonderful leveler. Art not only stimulates kids’ creativity, but maybe everybody will forget about their age for a day.”

And launch a pirate ship, perhaps.

Poet Matt Daly has several activities planned for people, including launching driftwood pirate ships with treasure maps leading to special places in R Park. Daly will also guide participants in making Sandpiper nests, complete with “eggs” fashioned from stones, on which people will mud-paint words.

Two of Daly’s projects intersect with other artists’ work. He will help park wanderers create poems to read into Bland Hoke’s Pond Flute. Daly has also collected poetic couplets from Jackson area poets that will be installed around the park by Bronwyn Minton.

Finally, Daly has chosen a forlorn tree in R Park that is in need of revival. People can help give the tree a new lease on life with green fabric leaves. Before tying your leaf on, Daly will invite participants to devise a personally meaningful word, phrase, or symbol, and write or draw it on the leaf.

The ever-inventive public artist, Bland Hoke, has repurposed large PVC pipes left over from another project to create a giant megaphone-cum-tin can telephone. Hoke said the Pond Flute is inspired by the Croatian Sea Organ, an architectural musical instrument that plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps.

At R Park, it will be people, not the sea, creating noise through the pipes. Speak into one end of the flute and you never know who will hear you in an entirely different park location.

Hoke says one of the things he enjoys about making public art is the challenge of engaging the public.

“It makes you think about the project you’re trying to do in a particular way,” Hoke said. “How do you create something that asks people to be creative?”

Sculptor and photographer Bronwyn Minton will elicit people’s creativity by inviting them to explore three or four special “experiential” places in the park.

“I’ve identified places that feel intimate and magical to me,” Minton said. “And there will be all these things you can go and do.”

One special place is a pictogram garden where young children and their families will find illustrative prompts about what can be seen in this place. Another place features sensing/feeling/looking prompts to attune visitors to all the sensory information around them. Another place will offer prompts that engage the imagination.

In addition to her magical places, Minton will also create metal signs for the couplets culled by Daly. The signs will be arranged in such a way that viewers can choose any trajectory of walking in order to read all the couplets to form an entire poem.

FoundSpace will also include a surprise interactive artwork by Jenny Dowd. And R Park has arranged to have the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival’s free iPhone app, Site: R Park, projected around the park.

Andrews says there is a term for all this creative engagement: community conservation.

“Community conservation is the key concept for maintaining and creating connections between people and vital conserved lands,” she said. PJH

The R Park Summer Solstice Celebration takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday, June 20, at Rendezvous Park. For more information, visit rendezvouslandsconservancy.org.

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About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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