Public art finds a venue to reach wider audience

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Public art finds a venue to reach wider audience

The “public” in “public art” has never been more prominent than it was on the streets of run-down urban areas last year. With help from a group of artists, residents living in blocks of run-down apartments rolled up their sleeves to cover the walls, parks and stairways in their neighborhood with paintings and installation art.
Named “Art in City 2006,” the one-year project sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism turned 10 neglected urban areas across the country into more attractive places. And to share this outcome with a wider section of the public, an exhibition is being held in Seoul that consists of photos from the remodeled areas and installations that are scaled-down versions of what had originally appeared on the streets.
One of the organizer’s favorite works is a mural in Wonjong, Bucheon city, where 200 of its residents covered a wall in the town with drawings. Children drew their favorite cartoon characters while mothers helped to color them in.
“People often recognize public art as something that’s just as grand as setting up a gigantic installation at a large open place by professional artists,” said Kim Jun-gi, a team head of Art in City. “This was a good chance for us to expand the meaning of public art and bring more joy to the people. We believe this was the most rewarding part in the project.”
Along with the pictures of the Bucheon mural there is “Playing on Six Steps Project,” taken near the Gwangmyeong subway station, where a stone staircase leading to a poorer part of the town was decorated with paintings. There are images taken of a playground at a closed-down elementary school in Hapcheon, South Gyeonsang province, which has been equipped with a new sand box, slides and colorful wooden benches. And “Daejeon Homeless Project” depicts an alley behind the ghetto that was decorated with murals and flower pots by artist Jeong Se-hak and the nine homeless people who consider Daejeon station their home.

“Art in City 2006, Document Exhibition: 10+1 Project” is held at the exhibit hall of Seoul Foundation Arts and Culture located on the Cheonggyecheon ninth street near exit five of Yongdu station on subway line No. 2. The exhibition runs until Jan. 21. For more information, call (02) 723-2650.

by Lee Min-a
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