Austin’s public art landscape is about to bloom.
The Waller Creek Conservancy and the Contemporary Austin announced today that the two organizations have commissioned the first of what will be many large-scale public art projects for the 1.5-mile stretch of downtown creekside.
A major site-specific installation by artist Orly Genger, to be unveiled March 5, is the first realization of a new partnership between Waller Creek Conservancy, the private nonprofit spearheading the transformation of the creekside, and the Contemporary, the museum that operates both the downtown Jones Center gallery and the 12-acre lakeside site Laguna Gloria, now the Edward and Betty Marcus Sculpture Park.
Genger’s “Hurlyburly” will be a mass of intricately woven blue rope that will stretch over undulating mounds across an area directly adjacent to the mouth of Waller Creek near the Waller Creek Boathouse on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake.
Sited on city parkland, the project is funded privately by art patrons Michael and Jeanne Klein and Suzanne Deal Booth.
It will open with a public reception March 5 and remain up for a year, through February 2017.
“Great cities do big things, and Orly Genger’s sculpture at the mouth of Waller Creek is big in all senses of the word,” said Mayor Steve Adler. “I am proud to be mayor of a city where we can have a public-art installation like ‘Hurlyburly.’ This feeds our soul as a community, and I hope it will spur further work along Waller Creek.”
Future installations organized by the partnership will feature works by significant local and national artists, including Austin-based artists Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler.
Two years ago Genger created “Current” for the amphitheater at the Contemporary’s Laguna Gloria site. That installation featured undulating blue-gray waves of rope that spilled down the amphitheater with one rope wave continuing its flowing journey, jutting out like a stream of lava onto a wooden barge-like platform right to the edge of the lagoon.
Public response to the Contemporary’s growing outside sculpture collection at Laguna Gloria has garnered the museum considerable popularity, officials said.
“We are so thrilled to watch as our ‘museum without walls’ philosophy begins to take shape,” said Louis Grachos, the Contemporary’s executive director. “Living among original works of art of this caliber has a positive effect on individuals and on a citizenry as a whole. I expect this and future collaborative installations will become beloved parts of the city’s fabric.”
Genger has used recycled lobster rope for more than a decade, creating monumental installations in New York, Houston and Chicago, among other cities.
She uses rope purchased from New England lobstermen, then spends arduous hours in her New York studio cleaning it, knotting it, knitting it and painting it.
For “Hurlyburly,” Genger will actually use much of the same rope that she used for the Laguna Gloria installation, repurposing once again material already repurposed.
Genger intends “Hurlyburly” to recall the languid flow of a river. Like with the installation at Laguna Gloria, the public will be able to touch it, crawl on it, walk across it and sit on it.