The framing of Mt. View as an arts immersion district — as unlikely a scenario as that is to some — got a jump start a week ago as two of four new sculpture installations were launched.
’52 Faces of Mt. View’ is a project of artists Erin Pollock and Steph Kese. Following their successful ‘367 lbs. of Wax’ exhibit at MTS Gallery in Summer 2009 — where they displayed wax faces — the pair proposed an installation of permanent face casts to be made from the faces of Mt. View residents.
Their process was a year-long odyssey of frustration, learning, experimentation and eventual triumph. Seeing the finished product, and hearing bits and pieces about the project as it developed, I wondered what the future holds for them. Will they be willing to take on something similar, ever again?
The piece is fantastic at doing what it’s supposed to do. It is an interesting focal point from a distance, especially at twilight, and it beckons for close inspection and then doesn’t disappoint. May it become a well-loved community institution and shine brightly forever.
A small crowd begins to gather for the unveiling — Dec. 4th at the corner of Mt. View Dr., Commercial Dr. and Taylor St.
The installation is effectively set at the back of a large circular low concrete wall, providing a nice place to stand and contemplate the faces.
Artists Pollock and Kese arrive at the ceremony and are greeted by Bruce Farnsworth.
Bruce [the founder of the Trailer Art Center and coordinator of the Mt View street art project] gives a short, lively talk about ’52 Faces’. He begins by thanking advocates and neighborhood boosters. Here he is pointing down the street to the MTS Gallery. “In case you’re not aware, one of the best art galleries in Anchorage is right here in Mt. View.”
Before the unveiling, some of the people whose faces are part of the piece begin to gather in the circle. The girl in the pink jacket looks behind the curtains for a sneak preview.
The curtains are peeled off one by one. The crowd reacts intensely.
Fully uncovered, a couple minutes are given for the piece to be feted by the people and its impact to sink in, and then…
…the faces are illuminated, and the crowd kind of goes crazy, shouting and whistling and cheering.
For the next few minutes, people move in for a closer look, entering and exiting the viewing circle and furiously shooting photos and videos with cameras and cell phones. People whose faces appear in the work are photographed near their faces.
The detail on the faces is incredible… so much character and presence… amazing!
Leaving the site, I could instantly understand what a powerful statement was made and how integral this piece is to Mt. View, placed at a prominent corner and entrance to the main part of the neighborhood.
The audience hung around for awhile looking at the faces, then moved over to the Boys and Girls Club/Community Center a couple blocks away for a celebratory dinner. I left to celebrate elsewhere.
The next day, with much less fanfare, the second of the four installations appeared. This is an about 18 ft. tall metal sculpture that is a flower, with the petals made of bicycles. Cindy Shake is the artist. It is in the plaza outside Credit Union 1 at the northeast corner of Mt. View Dr. and Bragaw St.
I really like this sculpture for its whimsy and pluck-ishness, and because Mt. View is a bicycle oriented neighborhood as much as any other place in Anchorage. Timely and joyous.