Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Getting Started in Public Art

Embarking on a public art project can be a daunting and complex process, even for those who have worked in this space before. From understanding the committee process to having adequate space and equipment for fabrication, artists new to the process can anticipate unique challenges and growth opportunities beyond what their normal studio practice entails. The UAC team is committed to helping artists navigate the public art process and wanted to share some thoughts for folks with less experience to get started on winning a public art commission:

+ Partner with another artist to jointly develop an idea and submit as a team. Identifying a partner with different skill sets and collaborative experience can be a huge asset in taking on a big project. 

+ Work with a subcontractor: artists often work with subcontractors to help fabricate and/or install a public art project. This can be a good way to identify needed equipment and local expertise. Commissioned artists pay subcontractors out of their funding for a public art project and therefore should include their payment in the overall project budget. If you’re looking to connect with a local subcontractor, let us know and we will be happy to help!

+ Reach out to the UAC team to get a better sense of project expectations and process. We are here to help!

+ Attend hustle events! Hustle is a free professional development workshop series that UAC hosts with Crosstown Arts and ArtsMemphis. If you don’t see a topic you are looking for in the upcoming calendar, let us know!

+ Volunteer at project installations: volunteering can be a great way to gain hands-on experience and connect with artists currently engaged in this work. Email to be added to our volunteer list.

With all of our best,

Lauren, Siphne and Mersadies

Monday, December 5, 2016

Local Artists Enhance St. Jude Marathon Route

Memphis, Tenn., November 29, 2016 The UrbanArt Commission (UAC) and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® commissioned temporary art installations by four local artists to beautify the St. Jude Memphis Marathon route. 

The largest single-day fundraising event for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon annually expects more than 22,000 participants and nearly 40,000 spectators to come out to support the kids of St. Jude - and view some incredible artwork.

On Saturday, December 3rd, art projects ranging from wheat pasted posters and recycled banners to a yarn bombing were found throughout the race, inspiring runners to go the distance. Local artists include graphic designer EG Balton, Memphis Knit Mafia founder Christiana Leibovich, and visual artists Carl Scott and Yancy Villa-Calvo.

EG Balton is a Memphian currently working as a sixth generation contributor to local sign manufacturing company, Frank Balton Sign Co., as a designer. She also maintains a studio practice as painter and illustrator, featuring emotive animals and organic life forms in her work. As for the St. Jude Marathon artwork— Balton combines her sign design experience with an appreciation for plant life and its symbolism for positive, life-giving growth. Her posters are simple reminders that we, like plants and all life forms on this planet, have the capacity to overcome great odds with persistence. Her posters seek to acknowledge the efforts and hard work that all St. Jude Marathon participants have put forth, and to motivate all individuals on their unique paths ahead with optimism.

Christiana Leibovich has worked as a painter, illustrator and makeup artist since high school. After receiving a crocheted blanket from her Uncle as a wedding gift in 2004, she took up knitting and a devotion to learning the crafts and traditions of her Grandmother, her great aunts and her husband’s family. She formed the Memphis Knit Mafia in 2007, and in 2009 began exploring public installations. She now joyfully combines fine art and craft from her home in Germantown, though she, her husband, and their daughter still consider themselves lifelong Memphians.

Carl Scott is a local Memphis artist who graduated in 1985 from Memphis College of Art with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Since that time, he has done enumerable projects, showings, murals, paintings and classes. Carl continually challenged himself by working with different mediums. The viewer is drawn into his work by constantly discovering new details and aspects with every glance. Almost simultaneously, his work evokes feelings of familiarity and emotional connection. Much of his work can be found throughout the Mid-South in various galleries, churches, banks, convention centers, hotels and businesses, and in private collections.

Yancy Villa-Calvo was born in Mexico City and has lived and traveled in Latin America, Europe and Africa. She received her formal art education at Christian Brothers University, Memphis College of Art and has been mentored by national and international artists. Holding a B.A., a B.F.A and an M.B.A., Yancy frequently exhibits in group and solo shows. Her work is displayed in private collections in the United States, Mexico, Netherlands, Brazil, and Israel. She has been in Memphis for over 20 years, where she lives with her husband Mauricio Calvo and their children Anna, Carolina and Santiago. Her St. Jude banners represent both the inner strength needed to overcome the obstacles of the race and the diverse colors of our Memphis community, all united in this race.

Anthony Lee is a local Memphis artist. His design for the North Parkway Underpass is created to travel with the driver's eye as they traverse the underpass at 40 mph. Contextually, the image conveys transference, as in electricity pushing electrons or waves carrying information. It's a shape pattern to allude to directional current and flow. As an off-center and concentric design, the shape of the wide swathes of washed concrete were drawn and scrubbed in by hand, for the whole vertical height of each form, and then pressure-washed to complete the fill. 

For 15 years and running the St. Jude Memphis Marathon has raised almost $50 million for the kids of St. Jude. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. And because the majority of funding comes from individual contributors, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most – saving kids regardless of their financial situation.

UAC extends many thanks to Theatre Memphis and FASTSIGNS for generously donating recycled banners to provide a canvas to local artists and make these projects possible.

UAC was founded in 1997 with the mission of enhancing the cultural vibrancy of Memphis communities through the development of public art. UAC works with a number of different partners, including the City of Memphis, various arts and community organizations, and neighborhood associations to commission artists of all media to consider shared spaces and experiences. For more information, visit

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Artist Spotlight: Tad Lauritzen Wright

Tad Lauritzen Wright is a Memphis-based artist whose work will be featured at the upcoming MEMFix event at Film Row on Saturday, September 24th from 11-5. Ride your bike to the event and test out his movie camera bike rack!

About Tad:
Movie Camera Bike Rack on Butler Ave
Tad Lauritzen Wright was born in 1972 in San Angelo, Texas. He now lives and works in Memphis,Tennessee. Lauritzen Wright is best known for his collage paintings, single line drawings, and word puzzle paintings. However, he works in a wide range of styles – using a variety of painting techniques, including collage, spray painting, traditional brushwork, and experimental applications of paint. Lauritzen Wright’s work has been shown extensively throughout the United States including venues like the Katonah Museum of Art in New York, the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, the Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Scope Miami, Art LA, Bridge Chicago, and Pulse NYC. He has had recent exhibitions with the Cheryl Hazan Gallery in New York, David Lusk Gallery in Memphis, and at ACME Gallery in Los Angeles.

About his Film Row icons:
One of Tad's Icons found @ Makeda's Cookies on 2nd St.

For the Film Row MemFix event I created film reel icons and antique camera icons to create identification markers for the area. Originally, a sculpture of a large camera was planned as a temporary element of the MemFix event. That sculpture was reconsidered and redesigned into a permanent installation of a movie camera that is also a bike rack.

Details about the event are available on Facebook
Read more about Tad's work on his website.