Since the beginning of June, Wet Heat Project has been in production on a series of documentary films capturing the stories of 11 art commissions of site-specific, large-scale work for a major retail space under construction in Chicago.
The ambitious project is curated by Miami-based Primary Projects on behalf of the newly-formed Arts Initiative. The artists creating installations are Daniel Arsham, Bhakti Baxter, Jim Drain, FriendsWithYou, Cody Hudson, Alvaro Ilizarbe, Andrew Nigon, Kenton Parker, Bert Rodriguez, Jen Stark, and Austyn Weiner.
Daniel Arsham just after completion of one of his three sculptural pieces emerging from the architecture of the new FOC retail complex in the north ground floor entrance area.
In the eyes of Arts Initiative founder and developer Arthur Weiner, the immersive artworks will become iconic “landmarks” that shape the experience of every visitor to the massive 530,000 square-foot Fashion Outlets of Chicago (FOC), a luxury-goods and fashion center with more than 100 shops situated beside O’Hare International Airport, which serves more than 65 million passengers a year and hosts the nation’s largest influx of non-stop flights from Asia.
Alvarao Ilizarbe paints from the top level of a 25-foot scaffold onto a ceiling section of the FOC’s 2nd level, applying one of thousands of individual strokes as he nears completion of a large-scale monochrome artwork covering multiple walls and ceilings at the center of the mall complex.
Soon after the FOC opens on August 1, as millions of regional, national and global visitors stream through the two-level complex, the 11 large-scale installations will be among the most photographed artworks in the world.
In the south main entry of FOC, Bert Rodriguez places one of a multitude of clocks, each representing a national or international city connected by direct flight to O’Hare airport (the flights of which pass overhead every day).
Wet Heat Project will be producing 11 short documentary films revealing the story behind each of the FOC’s elaborate artworks and the challenge each artist faced to devise, produce and install their immersive concept. The diverse, multi-disciplinary installations are produced by the curating team of Primary Projects (Books BischoffIII, Typoe, Cristina Gonzalez), whose cohesive vision for a total conceptual experience has for months required a vigilant, detailed and tireless daily effort. The curators not only guide the artists through technical and aesthetic application issues but manage the changing, complex tiers of installation mechanics, building codes and safety regulations inside a teeming, high-end construction site. In these remaining few weeks before opening day, the full-speed pace of art production and installation is yet accelerating.
Chicago-based artist Cody Hudson begins one of several large scale painted works on a main floor ceiling panel of FOC.
Bhakti Baxter spirals in to complete the center of a 30-foot painting (one of two) that enclose a center room featuring the interior of his vortex conception. As it circles in on itself, this tiny inner area features as many spiral arms as the massive area around it.
Jim Drain touches up one of hundreds of painted squares checkerboarding the walls and ceiling of an entire vestibule; in the background one of his crew prepares a ceiling panel of the mall’s main floor corridor for more checkerboarding. The pattern will host a series of large, overlaid stencils– a characterized snake. Drain’s installation will also include a sculpture with integrated lighting in a saturated red entry room.
Jen Stark in the beginning stages of a wide-ranging installation that will include multi-surface painting and large-scale hanging sculpture in the central ground floor area of the complex.