Monday, July 17, 2006

Windworks is Coming to the Science Center Wind Turbine

Cleveland Public Art has released a press release detailing the art component for the wind turbine located at the Great Lakes Science Center.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – Cleveland Public Art (CPA) in partnership with the Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) commissioned renowned New York artists Allan & Ellen Wexler to create a permanent educational public art installation surrounding the GLSC’s new full scale wind turbine at the museum’s lakefront location. Coined WindWorks, the installation will utilize art as a tool for educating, inspiring, and engaging the public while demystifying wind power and its potential for the Greater Cleveland region. Together, the turbine and artwork will make a powerful visual statement about Northeast Ohio’s growing commitment to environmental sustainability. WindWorks will be the first project of its kind in the United States. Construction of the artwork is scheduled to begin summer 2006 with completion anticipated in the fall of 2006.

After a national Call for Artists fall 2005, artists Allan & Ellen Wexler’s winning concept was selected based on their extensive experience in public art, architecture, and educationally-based art installations. The artwork will: make visual and personal the idea that our homes’ electricity can be created by the wind; turn attention towards the turbine’s function as a producer of clean energy; create an environment that invites and encourages exploration of the wind turbine; be intriguing when the artwork is viewed from above (City Hall, Cleveland Browns Stadium, blimp during football games); draw people to the turbine from the main street sidewalk and from the GLSC; highlight the connections between art and science, form and function; transform the turbine into sculpture before our eyes.

Specifically, WindWorks will create two pedestrian pathways whose forms are derived from the actual shadows of the wind turbine on the day of the equinox. Walking the "shadow pathways" will draw eyes upward to consider the beautiful form and function of the wind turbine. After walking one of the shadows, viewers will converge at a plaza ringing the turbine's base. Divided into 24 sections symbolizing 24 hours, inside the plaza they will encounter a series of sculptural seating arrangement created in cast concrete. The sculptural arrangements will be based on calculations of the average American's home electricity consumption, represented by the traditional one hundred watt light bulb. Based on calculations provided by the US Department of Energy, 4,167 one hundred watt bulbs, illuminated for a full 24 hours, is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of one American household. Artists Allan and Ellen Wexler’s “sitable sculpture” is comprised of 4,167 cast concrete bulbs. In addition, on the floor of the plaza, bronze text will be inlaid into the concrete to present related facts such as calculating wind direction and other environmental factors present on Cleveland’s lakefront.

For more information about the Wexlers and their past projects, please visit

Allan & Ellen Wexler were selected from 49 artists/designers from across the country who submitted to Cleveland Public Art’s Call for Artists fall 2005. The selection committee consisted of David Bergholz (Artist & former Executive Director, Gund Foundation), Val Davillier (Director of Exhibitions, Great Lakes Science Center), Don Harvey (Artist), Linda Henrichsen (Planning Commission, City of Cleveland), Kevin Madison (Architect, Robert Madison International), Tom Schorgl (President, Community Partnership for Arts & Culture), Jennifer Thomas (Director, Civic Innovation Lab, The Cleveland Foundation), Andrew Watterson (Sustainability Manager, City of Cleveland), and Ann Zoller (Executive Director, ParkWorks).

Current funders of the WindWorks project include the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners’ Arts & Culture as Economic Development Fund, the Ohio EPA’s Environmental Education Fund, The Dominion Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council (funding recommended, awaiting final approval), Forest City Enterprises Charitable Foundation, the John P. Murphy Foundation, FirstEnergy Foundation, Oatey, The Wolpert Fund of The Cleveland Foundation, the Billie Howland Steffee Family Fund, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, the Jones Day Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, and The George Gund Foundation.

For the complete press release, click here.

It has been about a year since the proposal to place a wind turbine at GLSC. When it was proposed, Lillian Kuri was the Planning Commission member who suggested incorporating some public art with installation. I seem to recall the issue being there would be this massive pole in the air and it would be nice if there some color to break up the blandness. So I was a little surprised to see the rendering showing all of the art components as ground based. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

According to the press release, there will be "...a series of sculptural seating arrangement created in cast concrete. The sculptural arrangements will be based on calculations of the average American's home electricity consumption, represented by the traditional one hundred watt light bulb." The whole piece is being billed as "sitable."

After looking through the artist's website, I noticed they have a very similar installation in Hanover, Germany called "In the Shadow of the Wind." Except their piece is not all at ground level (although some portions are because of the terrain - a mojority of the art as much as three feet off the ground), and it incorporates coal and tree trunks embedded throughout the structure.

I am dissappointed in this piece. Unless the other pieces from the compitetion were that inferior, I feel we are getting leftover art.


esc said...

Are the artists really all that creative to come up with a sculpture of the shadow the turbine makes? Couldn't the place have found something with a little more thought?