Temporary Art on the Streets of Padua
While I love museums, I get excited when art breaks out of its proverbial frame and interacts with viewers in new ways. Last October, I was fortunate enough to see an outdoor art exhibit sponsored by the city of Padua entitled, “Artisti al Muro,” or, Artists on the Walls. These 21 temporary pieces were scattered around the old city – some blending in with and some in stark contrast with their surroundings. These works included naturalistic wire sculptures of plants, fabric canopies, and ghostly figures. My favorite piece was “Germination” by Marisa Merlin which reiterated for me how successful mixed media pieces can be and how critical public art installations are.
“Germination” resided within the windows of a 17th century palazzo. Old books were wedged in between the bars and from them appeared grasses and other green shoots. The intended meaning was quite clear, especially in a college town like Padua: knowledge brings forth life which reaches out beyond whatever confines it. While a well-known metaphor, it was still delightful to see the construction of the piece with its warped books and green tendrils. The artwork beautifully blended together the elegant architecture of Padua, found objects, and organic plant elements.
The piece was subtle and did not announce itself from a particular distance. Rather it was something you happened upon and just caught out of the corner of your eye while passing beneath the windows. It rewarded passersby who took the chance to examine and contemplate the piece. I love this kind of accidental art experience in which viewers just stumble upon a thought-provoking piece (or can miss it completely). This is why I like like street art and why I hope to see more purposeful public art installation in the future.
Thanks Padua! Your streets were even more beautiful than I expected.