Friday, April 23, 2010

Maintenance Required at Arlington Arts Center

Early last autumn I learned my work, Maintenance Required, was selected for the Spring Solos, on view through June 5, 2010 at the Arlington Arts Center, Arlington, VA.

Beginning in late March, 2009, I began taking walking and driving tours of various neighborhoods throughout Washington, DC, documenting my tour and the various broken hydrants I found along the way. Since 2007, Washington has come to grips with the state of repair of its fire hydrants, determined which organizations were responsible for testing and repairing the hydrants, and set out a plan to replace about a quarter of its 10,000 hydrants in the next five years. According to a message I received from the DC Water and Sewer Authority, as of the beginning of March, 2010, DC WASA has replaced approx 3100 hydrants, which is well ahead of schedule.

189 Hydrants, 2009-2010

While my tours were initially devised to find as many hydrants as I could, I very quickly realized that though I had been in these neighborhoods many times before, I knew nothing about them. The work became as much about getting to know the neighborhoods as it became about finding the hydrants.

Seeing the educational possibilities of the work, for this installation I wanted to turn the gallery into a classroom. I painted a 70' chalk board across four walls of the space and framed it with base board. A mini gallery (of sorts) existed in part of the space, and I thought it was a fitting location for a bulletin board closet for 189 of the nearly 200 hydrants I had documented since the beginning of the project. (Why 189? Well... the 190th probably got misplaced along the way by the printer between the cutting mat and FedEx.) The bulletin board is nothing more than wrapping paper and some cheesy border trim I found on line through a teacher's supply warehouse.

Throughout the building are fire hydrant sculptures in various states of repair (tacked together with wood, duct-taped, stapled, stitched, filled with HVAC foam). Located near each hydrant are call boxes. People walking through the building can push the call box buttons and listen to a little clip about my reflections on the project, DC, and hydrants.

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