Installations at park, parking garages part of a busy end of year for Bloomington’s public art program

Towards dusk on Tuesday, visible progress was being made on the installation of “Urban Fabric,” a piece of public art that will wrap the new 4th Street parking garage in downtown Bloomington.

The public artwork for another recently completed city parking garage, located in the Trades District just north of city hall, will get a formal dedication this Friday.

Adding to public art activity in Bloomington in recent weeks was the dedication of “North Star/Hoosier Line” on Friday two weeks ago. It was installed on the east and west walls of the restrooms, north of the splash pad across the B-Line from the pavilion.

On Tuesday, a crew from Ignition Arts was working to hang the first few panels of colorful aluminum wedges into place on the north side of the 4th Street parking garage. Ignition Arts worked with Project One Studio to fabricate the more than 9,000 aluminum pieces that went into the artwork.

According to the city’s news release the patterns in “Urban Fabric,” which will eventually wrap the 4th Street garage, are meant to evoke a quilt. The news release says, “The artwork draws inspiration from the traditional art of quilting, representing the diversity and inclusiveness of the city through form, color, and pattern.”

Like the city’s other two public art installations, “Urban Fabric” was paid for through the city’s Percent for Art program. The city’s Percent for Art ordinance says at least one percent of the cost of construction for capital projects has to be used for public art in those projects or somewhere else in the city.

According to the city’s news release, the budget for “Urban Fabric” is $385,000.

The work to install the 4th Street parking garage artwork is expected to take a couple of weeks. A lane closure for Walnut Street—to allow the lifts to maneuver along the east side of the garage—is approved through Dec. 17, according to the city’s news release.

The garage has been open since Aug. 23, but did not have its payment system online until a few weeks later. The solar panels have also been installed since the opening.

The public toilet facilities were not yet open as of last week. According to public works director Adam Wason, the late completion of the restrooms involved the compatibility of the electronic locking mechanisms, the door jams, and getting the right parts delivered.

Based on B Square manual counts, daytime occupancy during the week is around an average of 110 or so, which is not near the 540-car capacity for the garage. That’s despite the fact that the city has sold 370 monthly permits for the garage.

The new 4th Street garage was built as a replacement for a roughly 350-space garage, which was demolished because the old garage was determined to be suffering structural failure.

On weekend evenings, the garage is reportedly seeing a lot more use for patrons of various entertainment venues. That pattern was borne out last week on the day after Thanksgiving, when The B Square counted just 30 cars parked around 1:30 p.m. But towards the start of the Canopy of Lights ceremony on the courthouse square, which took place that same evening, the count was 309 and still climbing. The following day (Saturday), The B Square counted 48 cars in the early afternoon hours.

The artwork dedicated a couple of weeks ago in Switchyard Park evokes Clear Creek and railroad lines, which are part of the history of the place. “North Star/Hoosier Line” was designed and fabricated by Tom Fansler and Rachel Kavathe of TIII Environments.

The art is described in the city’s news release as “interactive.” That’s because the railcars that are a part of the sculpture, can be repositioned along the tracks. A technique that proved helpful to The B Square’s effort to move the railcars was to tilt them a tiny bit upward before trying to slide them along the track.

Also paid for through the Percent for Art program, the cost of the “North Star/Hoosier Line” project was $60,000.

This Friday’s dedication of “Aurora Almanac” by Esteban Garcia comes after the ribbon cutting ceremony for the garage in mid-April. On that occasion Garcia was on hand to collect drawings from people who wanted to contribute to the designs that make up seven panels of three-dimensional tiles, which are lit in alternating colors. The panels are installed in the stairwells for the garage.

For the Trade’s District art project, the city’s online financial system shows three payments of $22,500 for a total of $67,500.

Animation of moveable railcars


Photos: 4th Street parking garage “Urban Fabric” installation (Nov. 30, 2021)

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