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The Suburbanite
  • Jim Hillibish: When daily routine suddenly confronts unintended art

  • Find our area’s spontaneous works of art in unlikely places.

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  • Our area’s freak-out art experiences are not only in the art districts or museums. They are a skyway between buildings at no less than Aultman Hospital and a tar patch job on 38th Street NW.
    What? Read on.
    Aultman’s skyway blew me away when I first saw it. I was going to some technological mayhem on the other side. (Note to self: On the follow-up, bring camera with wide lens.)
    Art to me must evoke emotion, or it’s simply wallpaper. This skyway takes your breath away.
    It’s an angular web of black girders against the sky, but they are not the surprise. It’s the shadows they cast on the gray floor and on everybody taking passage that does the deed.
    I had a really weird time with it. Walking through, I felt like I was stepping into in a worm hole, no, I don’t know what it was. Maybe flying.
    The only time to go is in the morning on a blue-sky day. Then the shadows totally envelop you, evoking confusion as your brain tries to process the chaos. You’re inside the art, looking out. You’re part of it.
    I saw a family with three youngsters stepping onto it. They ran to the sides, followed the shapes up and around and experienced perhaps their first rush of artistic excitement.
    Suddenly finding it here is a total surprise.
    REAL STREET ART
    Our art in unusual places tour continues on the pavement of 38th Street NW between Taft Middle School and Whipple Avenue NW. I’m not kidding.
    Instead of repaving the street, they refilled the multitude of random cracks with tar. The black against gray in thousands of snaking shapes is an unintended public mural.
    Really. Go the 40 mph for best effect. My wife thinks I’m a little flaky about street repairs, but I have never seen anything like this.
    Both of these displays, if I may call them that, are spontaneous art. This is unintended art found in unexpected places. It’s not contrived; it just happens. Perhaps that’s what art should be — unfettered.
    The folks who accomplished the 38th Street tar job had no idea they were creating a long abstraction in black and gray. They were too close to it, and I’m sure it was just another job.
    The effect speaks for itself, loudly, if you let it.
    “Art is anything you can get away with.” Marshall McLuhan’s most famous quote is so dead-on.