Houston Hand Rainbow Cape by Russ Rubert

Houston Hand Rainbow Cape by Russ Rubert

ideaXfactory, June 2013

This month we have been busy managing our first artist talk and laying the groundwork for July’s Contemporary Art Street Jam. Earlier this week, ideaXfactory co-founder Meganne Rosen O’Neal recorded an entertaining SGF Live Local podcast interview with TAG Magazine in which she discussed the ArtPlace grant, yarnbombing, installation and public art, and more!

“Right Here, Right Now”

Our first artist talk was given on June 7th by ideaXfactory Artistic Director Russ RuBert. Tracing his evolution as an artist who has created transient environments, performance art and large-scale public art installations, the highlight of his Friday evening talk was the Harmonic Wall installation.

To create this amazing construction of 27 feet of neon lights, layered and individually triggered by sound, beat, pitch, and motion, RuBert has drawn on past experience developing interactive interfaces to invent new apparatus, such as his musical instrument that uses light to create sounds.

Meganne said in her interview with TAG, “…when I say Russ built this, he hand-soldered all the little connections and everything to make it work. This is a very new animal. He’s very brilliant and built all this from scratch… So you have someone playing that instrument, people painting with the sonic paintbrushes, and then add guitar — it’s a very multi-layered interactive installation.”

During the talk, Russ created short performances of improvisational whistling, then waved his hands in precise ways to create rhythms and sounds that lit the multi-colored neon across the width of the building and to the beat of the music.

Organizing three people from the audience into a circle, he dipped his “Sonic Paintbrush” into watercolors. Movements of the brush on paper or skin created music that sounded almost like that of a dolphin or the song of a whale. The touch conducted person-to-person though the circle brilliantly lit the Harmonic Wall in rhythm to movements of the brush and to variations of human touch. The live performance built to a crescendo of light and sound, then dropped into silence when the circle was broken.

At the end of this popular and well-attended event, Springfield City Manager Greg Burris rose from the audience to give an endorsement of support for the ideaXfactory and the tremendous opportunities the ArtPlace grant will confer to our community.

Did we mention that Greg is a local music buff and is an awesome guitar player? In fact he helped Russ tune the Harmonic Wall to specific pitches by playing his guitar and has performed with other local musicians at our opening events!

For more photos of the installation and events, visit our Harmonic Wall gallery page on Flickr.

Knitting a Rainbow

Helping to establish the first ever Greater Ozarks Pridefest March on June 15 captured the fancy of the ideaXfactory yarn bombers, and their performance art element counts as another win.

The group pieced together six stripes of a rainbow woven from yarn and plastic to create a cape worn by artist/musician Houston Hands. Once joined, cape-makers had to move together like a crazy multi-colored octopus, and each yarn bomber continued knitting or crocheting a stripe as they marched.

Unexpectedly a record ten inches of rain fell that day, but lightning and flood warnings did not deter a large crowd from making the march from City Hall to Park Central Square.

Though the majority of the crowd carried umbrellas, the yarn bombers with busy hands holding needles and yarn could not. It was an experiment in teamwork and an exercise in endurance and commitment. As a performance, it symbolized individual creation combined into a work-in-progress community effort.

Attaining a Street-Closing Permit

A third win — or perhaps challenge for future exploration: we have attained a City permit to temporarily close Mill Street adjacent to our building for a Contemporary Art Street Jam on July 5-6. This section of street connects to a back alley joining Squidfoo Art Gallery and Hacker Space and Missouri State University’s Art + Design Department at Brick City who will be collaborators.

The event will build on success of previous Live Art events and towards the creation of a city-wide celebration of Contemporary Art for next July 2014. Temporary events and installations can be a huge effort, but creating thematic connections between events and leveraging collaborative bonds that are formed between diverse groups in the process can have a combined long-term impact.

Closing of the street will allow us the opportunity to explore how outdoor public spaces surrounding the building can be shared and used as places for more than cars and busses. These spaces can be used for people and activities to add vibrancy and regeneration to the neighborhood.

Houston Hand Rainbow Cape by Russ Rubert

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