Austin is one of five cities to participate in a new public art initiative coming from the High Line Network Joint Art Initiative, a new collaboration between infrastructure reuse projects in North America.
From March through May 2019, the Waller Creek Conservancy will host “New Monuments for New Cities,” an exhibition of 25 poster artworks with five artists from each the five participating cities.
“New Monuments for New Cities” launches first at Houston’s Bayou Bend and will also go display at Chicago and Toronto before it finishes up in fall 2019 at New York’s High Line, the 1.5-mile stretch of elevated train tracks on Manhattan’s West side transformed into a destination, art-filled park.
The “New Monuments” commission called for artists to create poster-proportioned images that can be reproduced in any size and quantity, and displayed differently in each location. The posters represent proposals for monuments that could replace the Confederate statues and other objectionable symbols removed from public places around the country.
“As memorials to the deeply imbalanced history of the Western world are being torn down, the current moment demands critical thought and creativity about the monuments that adorn our cities,” said Cecilia Alemani, director and chief curator of High Line Art.
Awai’s “Re-claimed Water-CC’d” shows a City of Austin street drain in the shape of a torso and face, a common image of Christopher Columbus, with the explorer’s name below. The ground-level plaque is a reference to the Columbus statue in New York that Mayor Bill de Blasio chose to keep in situ earlier this year. The artist’s feet — clad in Italian sneakers — peek into the frame. Instead of completely removing monuments to the colonizers of the Americas, Awai suggests a way to maintain an awareness of history and its complexities, literally at our feet.
Valdez’s “TWOTHOUSANDANDSEVENTEEN” features a U.S. flag hanging limply, mournful, but facing history with humility.
Houston area artists include Jamal Cyrus; Sin Huellas: Delilah Montoya and Jimmy Castillo; Phillip Pyle, II; Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin.
Other artists are: Judith Bernstein, Susan Blight, Daniela Cavazos Madrigal, Eric J. García, Guerrilla Girls, Coco Guzman, Hans Haacke, Tonika Johnson, Life of a Craphead, An Te Liu, Chris Pappan, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Richard Santiago (TIAGO), Xaviera Simmons, Zissou Tasseff-Elenkoff, and Quentin VerCetty.