If there had ever been a perfect public sculpture for shareable selfies, “Lover’s Rainbow” could be this one.
The piece, one of two monumental outdoor sculptures slated to be installed on the grounds of the Memorial Art Gallery next year, will be made of steel rebar painted in rainbow colors and bent to form a high arch that stretches several dozen feet across the open lawn.
“You’re supposed to stand below, you’re supposed to have the Instagram photo,” MAG director Jonathan Binstock said following a groundbreaking ceremony Monday at the museum that drew staff, elected officials and dignitaries from the University of Rochester, which owns the gallery.
“Lover’s Rainbow” by Mexican artist Pia Camil and another untitled sculpture by New York artist Rashid Johnson will anchor the gallery’s expansion at its Centennial Sculpture Park. The pieces will join 12 others that are already gracing the campus lawn when they are scheduled to be completed next fall.
The expansion is also to include new pedestrian paths, smaller sculptures and refreshed landscaping, museum officials said. The start of work is scheduled for October.
“Museums have always been that place where you go, you see art, you absorb it, and then leave,” Binstock said. “I think all of this is really about changing the relationship, so it’s not just about welcoming the camera, but also making the community the centerpiece.”
Once installed near Prince Street, Johnson’s sculpture, which has yet to be named, will form a curved wall covered in mosaic tiles that depict the images of “genderless and raceless” faces, Binstock said, adding that students from the nearby art school inspired the work.
The expansion marks the second phase of construction of Centennial Sculpture Park, which opened in 2013 to celebrate the museum’s 100th anniversary. The latest additions were funded by two private donors and a $ 600,000 grant from Empire State Development, the umbrella organization of the state’s two economic development utilities.
The overall goal of the project is to open up the campus to invite passers-by to walk around the grounds, explore the art for free, or sit and chat with friends, museum officials said.
Works by Rochester artists Albert Paley, Jackie Ferrara and the late Wendell Castle, as well as New York sculptor Tom Otterness and others were installed during the initial phase, along with walkways and elements of landscaping that crisscrosses the southern and eastern grounds of the gallery. .
The Castle and Otterness works added more places to sit (and climb, in the case of some parts of the Otterness work). Ferrara’s “Marking Crossways”, a series of geometric paths, are used by pedestrians throughout the day.
State Senator Samra Brouk, who was on hand for the opening, called the museum “a cornerstone of the Rochester community.”
“MAG makes art accessible to our community, and this sculpture park is another way to give our community something to cherish,” said Brouk.
Sections of the wrought iron gate that were used to sequester the district’s MAG campus have been removed, allowing 24-hour access to the grounds. More of this gate will collapse with the expansion, this time opening the land to pedestrian traffic from University Avenue, near the School of the Arts.
This expansion complements the original vision for the sculpture park, Binstock said, but added that there was more to do on the 15-acre lot to make the museum a greater cultural presence in the neighborhood.
“We have thoughts, dreams, fantasies of how to keep improving the exterior of the property in order to make more room for art, to be more inviting for people, more welcoming”, a- he declared.
Rebecca Rafferty is the editor-in-chief of CITY. She can be reached at [email protected]