While downtown Springdale gets a whole new vibrant life – with people walking, shopping, eating and drinking – it has a unique attraction at Emma Avenue. Famous Hardware’s historic building has become an art gallery, currently showing an installation by Factory Obscura, based in Oklahoma City. Because the exhibition space is seen only through the two-story windows, choosing the right art has been both a joy and a challenge for curator Dayton Castleman.
“The size of the space has a lot to do with it,” says Castleman of the choices he has made since the Famous Hardware exhibitions began in February. “The work must have a certain presence and a certain scale to hold or carry the spaces. So that’s one of my criteria. Another important job is the job that will grab people’s attention as they go about their own business by walking down the street – work with enough appeal or visual appeal that a person stops. and look, because it is inaccessible other than through the windows.
“Factory Obscura creates completely immersive experiences that match the monumental scale of the building,” adds Castleman, whose work as a curator is done through Verdant Studio, an art and architecture firm in Rogers where he is director of visual thinking. “And they embrace how the interactivity and technology incorporated into the work can be of interest to the viewer. They even found ways to make it interactive through glass.
The installation is called “BRAIN TO BRAIN PAPER PLANE,” and Kelsey Karper, co-founder of Factory Obscura, says it presented a unique challenge.
“Factory Obscura’s work is always interactive and immersive, and creating something to experience through store windows has provided us with a new challenge to work in a new way,” says Karper. “Likewise, in 2019, we created a larger-than-life Boombox on our building in Oklahoma City. The Boombox is interactive and available to be experienced 24 hours a day. The interactive nature of our work brings something new to the storefronts of downtown Springdale, which we hope gives people a new reason. to visit Emma Avenue, maybe even for the first time.
“‘BRAIN TO BRAIN PAPER PLANE’ is a multimedia world, handcrafted by artists, illustrating how ideas can grow and evolve through the act of creative collaboration, which is at the heart of all of Factory Obscura’s work” , she continues. “Visitors can expect to experience a multisensory representation of the artists’ creative process, and they are invited to participate in the work through interactive touch sensors placed on the window glass. “
It all goes back to the founding of Factory Obscura in 2017, says Karper.
“A mysterious e-mail was sent to potential artistic collaborators, and we embarked on an introductory meeting with about thirty artists,” she recalls. “We talked about the vision of what we wanted to create and we quickly realized that we had the artistic capacity here in Oklahoma City to explore larger questions, including: what is an artistic experience that would give a space of wonder, joy and play for all ages? look like? What would it be like to employ and pay artists as professionals? How can we create shared experiences that transcend everyday life?
“By asking ourselves these questions, and many more, and seeking to answer them through our experiences, we see ourselves changing the world,” says Karper. “By allowing people to feel their feelings and share a common experience in community with others, we create a framework of joy and exploration that encourages the sharing of wonder. By paying flourishing wages with good benefits, we are helping to strengthen the experience economy and provide more well-paying jobs that contribute to the well-being of our community. By ensuring that our experiences are accessible at all levels, physically, emotionally and financially, we strive to create equitable access to these kinds of artistic experiences. We believe the future is collaborative and the future is now. “
For the Downtown Springdale Alliance, which programs Famous Hardware windows with funding from the Tyson Family Foundation, “artistic experiences like Factory Obscura empower communities within themselves by bringing people together for a unique shared experience,” says Jill Dabbs, executive director. “The energy these experiences inject into our downtown area stimulates foot traffic, economic development and curiosity about what happens next. Public art reflects how much a community is loved.
The Tyson Family Foundation was introduced to the work of Factory Obscura through the King’s Mouth installation organized in partnership with the Arts Center of the Ozarks in the fall of 2019. “We seek to create platforms that encourage engagement and experimentation, ”says Olivia Tyson of the foundation. .
The real key to Famous Hardware’s installations is universal accessibility, Castleman concludes.
“It’s a job that no matter who you are, there is something to enjoy in watching it or to identify with in watching it, even if it’s the sheer pleasure of the show,” he says. “Easy reading on one level, but also work that has layers of sophistication that might not be immediately apparent on the surface – work that, if you choose to linger there and dig a little deeper, the layers can continue to unfold. It’s the combined challenges of scale and the desire to meet customer expectations that are all part of the formula – not that everything is a formula. “
“BRAIN TO BRAIN PAPER PLANE”
WHEN – Until November 8; the installation can be seen day and night
O – Famous Hardware, 113 W. Emma Ave. in Springdale
INFO – factoryobscura.com/news/downtown-springdale
For info – Look at centre-villespringdale.org for events related to the facility.