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Bubbleway at Sydney Art & About

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Rebar traveled to Sydney, Australia in early October for Sydney Art & About, an annual arts festival that utilizes public spaces around the city of Sydney. The idea of Sydney Art & About is to create an interactive public art gallery in the streets, transforming the city itself into a living canvas. Evoking a response from residents of Sydney, whether it be to laugh, question, think, or simply smile, Art & About seeks to bring art to the forefront of the social conscience.

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Rebar’s contribution to Art + About is Bubbleway — a modular, inflatable social furniture system designed specifically for Laneways 2011, the fifth installment of Laneway Art. Utilizing an inflatable system enclosed in a brightly colored skin, Bubbleway serves as a fun, comfortable, and inviting place to relax. The skin, which was designed in collaboration with the San Francisco-based messenger bag company Timbuk2, is a resilient ripstop nylon perfect for the urban playground. It was also made locally in San Francisco. Bubbleway modules can be reconfigured and adapted to support a variety of interactions and the space it is occupying. Bubbleway was created to encourage a rethinking of preconceived notions of public space, and to develop new forms of informal social interactions and play.

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Other commissioned works for Art + About and Laneways included artists from around Australia and Americans Janet Echelman, whose work can be seen as locally as at SFO, Bay Area native Barry McGee, and Austin-based founder of Knitta Please, Magda Sayeg. Rebar would like to extend a profound thank you to the city of Sydney and to acknowledge the curators who brought us to Sydney, Amanda Sharrad and Justine Topfer for their hard work and commitment to experimental and innovative public art.

Bubbleway is available for viewing and playing on for free 24 hours a day from September 23, 2011 to January 31, 2011 and is located at Bulletin Place, Sydney, NSW 2000.

Written by Rebar

October 5th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Juneau Day 4: Sho-Globe pops up in Marine Park

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Tomorrow lunchtime….the state capitol…

Written by Blaine

April 15th, 2011 at 1:40 am

Juneau Day 2: The shell emerges!

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Whoa, day 2 has been huge! Many of our volunteers have commented that they’ve done more ironing in the last day than in their whole lives. It’s strange that architecture and ironing….two ends of the domestic spectrum…are converging in the making of the Sho-Globe. We have 26 long sections (each, coincidentally, 26 feet long) seamed together to form the two concentric shells of the Globe.

We’ve had – again – a great volunteer turnout, and many curious passersby stopping by to ask when we’ll be deploying Sho-Globe on the streets and squares of Juneau. Just a few more hours…

By the end of the day, all of our major sections were put together and we’ve scoped out several potential sites around town to launch. Karen, Adam and Blaine also did a radio interview with James on Juneau’s KXLL.

Written by Blaine

April 12th, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Juneau Day 1: Sho-Globe is underway

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Day 1 saw a busy volunteer turnout at our storefront workspace at 118 Seward, with all the panels cut for Sho-Globe, power system up and running, and getting ourselves organized at our new space. That took less time than we thought…which is good, because the next step is sealing the panels together which can be a tricky process. Thanks to the many folks in Juneau who came in to help Monday!


Written by Rebar

April 12th, 2011 at 8:33 am

Artist-Designed Bike Racks Installed on Market and Polk

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Last year the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition organized a contest among artists to redesign the standard bike rack for Treasure Island, using the same square steel tubes that are used in many mass-produced bike racks. The redesigns reference the island, intended to add to a sense of place. Now you can see the top three designs implemented on Market Street and Polk Street, and test out these sculptural bike racks.

Todd Gilens’ winning design references the diagonal street plan for Treasure Island (a grid intended to prevent wind tunnels from prevailing winds).

Todd's Bike Racks at 1020 Market Street

Todd's Bike Racks at 1020 Market Street

Runners up include Kirk Scott’s design, racks shaped to look like the map of Treasure Island and include intersecting bars that reference the exact location of each bike rack.

Kirk Scott's Bike Rack in Front of City Hall (on Polk Street)

Kirk Scott's Bike Rack in Front of City Hall (on Polk Street)

The last fabricated bike rack is Ryan Dempsey’s wave design, which is located on Polk Street, also in front of City Hall.

Ryan Dempsey's Wave by City Hall on Polk Street

Ryan Dempsey's Wave by City Hall on Polk Street

To look at the original design boards and read more about San Francisco Bike Coalition’s work helping create a bike and pedestrian friendly Treasure Island, check out their blog.

Written by Rebar

January 3rd, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Public Art

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Rebar on winning team for Central Corridor Public Art Plan

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Public art and public participation have been evolving a lot in the last forty years. But how do you create an art plan that can respond to changing ground conditions? Because plans are implemented over a scale of decades they need to be both specific and adaptable–and stay relevant even as the neighborhoods they envision change unexpectedly. We got the chance to team up with Cliff Garten Studio, Todd Bressi and Via Partnership to test out a new approach to creating a public art plan for the cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, which will soon be connected by a new light rail line. The art plan will reach out beyond the Central Corridor light rail, to shape the surrounding neighborhoods which will be influenced by the new infrastructure. According to the project client, Public Art Saint Paul:

The Metropolitan Council’s Central Corridor LRT project has engaged visual artists to create public art at the Project’s 18 new stations and platforms. This Art Plan seeks to go beyond the LRT public art program in scope, range of artistic media, and time frame. The Art Plan will articulate a vision for art in multiple media and move beyond the stations and platforms to consider the entire public realm: public buildings, the streetscape, landmarks, pathways, parks and open spaces, and water quality infrastructure. It will engage neighborhoods, educational institutions, and economic and cultural centers and envision opportunities for public art in future private sector transit oriented developments.

The project represents an opportunity for a new approach: using artwork itself as a means to engage the public and give shape to the plan. As a part of the process, Rebar envisions public events in the spirit of Park(ing) Day that engage community members around the physical territory of the new Central Corridor to test ideas, learn about the site, and prototype new ways of inhabiting space as a means of gathering first-hand data that can inform the art plan.

After the field was whittled down to three contenders last month, we got word that our team was selected to create the plan. We’re excited to bring to bear several emerging themes of our practice to bear on this new project.

Written by Blaine

December 10th, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Rebar awarded Portland Tri-Met station artwork commission

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Image: Portland Afoot via Flickr

Image: Portland Afoot via Flickr

It’s official–Rebar has been selected by Tri-Met for the artwork commission at the Clinton Street/SE 12th Avenue station of Portland’s newest light rail line. We are pulling on our galoshes and brewing a big pot of artisan-roasted ideas in preparation for this gig in Stumptown. From the project’s concept design:

The Clinton Street station is a central gathering place framed
by a series of new transit-oriented developments. The area
is now active with a vibrant mix of industrial, employment,
retail, services and housing that successfully integrates with the
character of the surrounding neighborhoods. Easy wayfinding
is provided and enhanced by public art. The station is easily
accessible by bicyclists, pedestrians and bus riders, and
improved connections provide a link to the riverfront. The
Powell Boulevard overpass is a highly visible structure used
by many bicyclists and pedestrians who now enjoy a safe
connection between the Brooklyn and Hosford-Abernethy
neighborhoods. Students who live in the surrounding area use
the station and improved bicycle routes to access OHSU and

The Clinton Street station is a central gathering place framed by a series of new transit-oriented developments. The area is now active with a vibrant mix of industrial, employment, retail, services and housing that successfully integrates with the character of the surrounding neighborhoods. Easy wayfinding is provided and enhanced by public art. The station is easily accessible by bicyclists, pedestrians and bus riders, and improved connections provide a link to the riverfront. The Powell Boulevard overpass is a highly visible structure used by many bicyclists and pedestrians who now enjoy a safe connection between the Brooklyn and Hosford-Abernethy neighborhoods. Students who live in the surrounding area use the station and improved bicycle routes to access OHSU and PSU.

More this year as we dig in!

Written by Blaine

December 3rd, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Zephyros comes to (digital) life

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Last week we submitted our invited proposal for the San Francisco Arts Commission’s public artwork at the Palega Recreation Center in the Portola neighborhood…and were proud to make what we think is pretty strong use the letter Z in a project name….and the wind conditions across the site! Check out the proposals page online. This is a bit of a departure from Rebar’s usual public art direction (form-wise) but nevertheless is part of our ongoing exploration of interactive site elements that engage the public with their social and physical environment. From the description…

Zephyros is a wind-activated sculpture in the form of a helix composed of reflective panels braided around a tall aluminum mast. Three unique, tapered  spirals—clustered in the landscape at the crossroads of park pathways—will gently spin at varying speeds, revealing wind patterns that may be unnoticed at ground level. The reflective stainless steel panels will capture light and mirror the activity in the park and in the surrounding neighborhood.

Zephyros is both an environmental art piece that captures and reveals wind patterns in the sky, and a social sculpture that literally reflects the park and the neighborhood. Looking at the piece from below, the visitor sees her own reflection, but also the neighborhood and the sky in an ascending collage high above. The movement in the sky will be made visible on the ground as the sun casts dynamic, undulating shadows across the landscape.

The gently warped panels are made of a light, mirror-finish stainless steel sheet with a reinforcing rib. The design process will test various finishes to identify the best option that shimmers and reflects the sky and light, but does not produce unwanted glare. The panels are light enough to be activated by the wind, but durable enough to withstand the elements. Because they are attached to a single sleeve around the mast, they will turn in sync and use their combined wind force to add to the overall motion.


Written by Blaine

December 1st, 2010 at 3:15 pm