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Public Art Squad: The Power of Today´s Messengers

 article about Public Art Squad: The Power of Today´s Messengers
2012-10-14 02:16:59
The Sun Maker Feature News Report

Is human a stranger to his own existence? Is there a place for the essence of our nature in this world? What role does art play in modern hard hitting economies and corporate democracies? Is this society, run by consumerism, in danger of loosing its greatest value?

Samuel Beckett described the nature of the second skin in his model of the existentialism reality of this modern paper stage. Today, awards of art, with the head of Shakespeare are granted to laser beamed shows of entertainment. Therefore it is time for rock and colours, as the Kingdom did get traded for the horse, and the Montesquieu values set the clock to the environmental storms we created. If internet failed to provide people with "the superpower" of expression, Public Art will always be there, as a white canvass waiting for it to be taken. In the Big Island slash Continent, of Australia, the cyclone passed through, and the hail storm melted nothing. Here Public Art Squad unleashes it new power of creation. They answer with actions the question; what is place where politics and economy rendezvous with art, in the common grounds, of Public Art, and Public Art Spaces? Directed by David Humphries, an artist that travelled the generations and lands, the work of Public Art Squad, represents modern art and should not be taken for granted. (Image above: Peace Justice & Unity Mural / City of Sydney – Photographer John Fotiatus. COPYRIGHT © Courtesy of Public Art Squad.)

Public Art Squad
In a career spanning over 30 year, David Humphries has re-imagined the way Australian cities can present and promote their public spaces. As the director of Public Art Squad, David has proven that art can add cultural and capital value to a city. David regularly speaks at conferences and symposiums to share his passion for and involvement in the movement towards "Creative Cities." David's interest in public art was spurred when at Art School he participated in Christo's team for the wrapping of Little Bay; an experience that also gave him an insight into the type of business an artist needed to support public art projects.

His achievements are neither scarce nor insignificant. The mural, Peace, Justice and Unity in Sydney's CBD, The Devonshire Street Subway murals, at Central Railway, ‘Think Globally, Act Locally' mural at Redfern, awarded the Sir John Sulman Prize in 1985. The Sydney Opera House 10th Anniversary Mural, The Olympic Journey Celebration Pathway, at Darling Harbour. Art floors in the entrance lobbies of The National Maritime Museum, in Sydney, The Fashion and Textile Museum, in London, &Star City Casino, in Sydney. The National Capital Authority of Australia commissioned him to create several memorials, including a tribute to Walter Burleigh Griffin the designer of the National Capital at the Canberra Exhibition Centre. All are part of his incredible legacy. Image Community mural @ Orange Festival – Photographer Jennifer Steel. COPYRIGHT © Courtesy of Public Art Squad. He is sure an authority figure in Public Art and pioneer in his field. He has co-authored the Mural Manual, first published in 1982 and his public works have received countless prizes, including the prestigious Sulman Award, The American Mosaic & Terrazzo Association Honor Award, Cement and Concrete Association Australia Public Art Award. David Humphries states "I have achieved a high level of understanding of the medium and industry, which as an artist and designer enables me to be very innovative in my work."
His influences? Indigenous desert women; the fashion designers of London; from environmentalists in far north Queensland to trade unionists in Tasmania; from small suburban community projects to large international projects. What did he learn from them? "From all these experiences and from the people who have shared their stories, I have learned much and my work has benefited. These experiences are my spiritual environment, the palette I create with ."

Filling the void of Society
Spirituality and religion attempt to achieve just that, to convey the message of the triple nature of human existence, the unity, and the infinity. However, it can be argued that they have gone off the rock in their attempt to do so. Beyond those who moralize society exists, the experience of Public Art may be in fact the last true expression of the art, as we know it in history. Truth can be treasured as only inner mirrors are. If we walk most of the great urban constructions of this "modern" era, we observe an invisible force, of great magnitude, acting as amnesia, erasing all vestiges of consciousness, social, human, nature and individual expressions. The urban engineers know that every line is controlled by the architects of the general policy makers and manufactures. (Image Zandra Rhodes California Beach House terrace – Photographer Jim Bradey. COPYRIGHT © Courtesy of Public Art Squad. Zandra Rhodes and David Humphries Movie.) Like the grains of sand, which form a dessert, every structure fills a space creating the city, and creating a void. Technology and the future wired us to the point of becoming wireless, but still the vacuum became worst than silence. We can be instantly connected and everywhere, but we are rarely here and now. The expansion of both the city and the information is not interested in the balancing equation. Water, fire, or earth, wired or wireless, the artists do not like dictation, neither do they appreciate spell outs. The artists are, constantly seeking peace with nature, attempting to fill in the space with a meaningful message. This message is as valuable or more valuable than gold. In fact this message is the map to the hidden golden and diamonded treasure of higher knowledge.

Public Art Squad keeps its integrity intact while working in Australia, "infiltrating" the most important locations. While some may argue, art has no place in Shopping Malls, Olympic games, plaza streets, or government strategies, nor near the trade market neighbourhoods, it may well be whereart is most needed. It is not easy task to get in, and Public Art Squad have proved to have done just that. As in the image to the left (Sign for the Dream - The Olympic Journey Celebration Pathway which contains 22,000 signatures of goodwill for the 2000 Sydney Olympics –Darling Harbour Sydney). Olympic Pathway Movie.
So how did they achieve this success? Is it due to the human talent that drives this Squad? Or is art in Economic Developed Countries different? Art, as mentioned is a value, "although needs no spectators". Are economic developed countries be more inclined towards art consciousness, and Public Art creation,? What are the perceived values when allocating budgets to these projects.?What ever, the truth is that the rules of the game are more competitive and basically harder to play. So, if it comes down to talent, where is the talent in Public Art Squad found?

Public Art Squad, creates a mosaic of images of deep and profound symbolism that can be traced down through the forgotten timeline of art's history. Therefore the work of Public Art Squad becomes a journey of learning about events that shaped the history of societies. David Humphries states, "Underpinning my public artwork is a desire to create images that acknowledge those who have gone before us and to respond to the aspirations and needs of the current and future users of the space"

Public Art Squad, works by providing options. Only by the question which rises from the abstraction of an art is one impelled to question what does that shape or colour mean; or who has used that before and why? You may gaze at the picture of a star, in blue, and wonder why the artists has used it there, and what does it mean. You may research it, or find the answer within yourself. Or you may just look at the blue star and come to no conclusion. This is the provided option of semi abstract art. Public Art is as ancient as art itself. Public art has been the kick-starting spark of the fire which created movements in the history of art (read: Bridge Building: Culture of Masks, Dreams and Death). Public Art has been present in all times, anonymous, telling the stories, of peace, war, changes, and providing the most necessary information to understand a culture by. In modern society, as always Public Art imitates "life". And as in life it is in danger of becoming ignored, looked upon briefly, thought to be there to entertain or to attract crowds, or thought to be nice colours. However modern Public Art is much more. Modern Graffiti shows the true nature of society expressed in the new generations. Coded, silent, afraid of speaking out, angry and machine like modern graffiti reflects the inner world of the young generations. Other Public Art goes into satiric expressions. It must be agreed there are also hard hitting social, moral and ethical public art, on the streets today, acting out speaking clearly...crying for change and social justice. Every culture expresses its environment and uniqueness with its Public Art .

The Multidirectional History of Art
Through history art has had a single united direction. This direction has been united by movements of art. Occuring in the west and in the east, and as true in the north as in the south. However something happened when the art reached the XX th Century. As society changed significantly, art mysteriously began to look back onto its long walked path and began to imitate old periods and create new recombinations as well as give brith to new unique directions.

Since then art has become multidirectional. Although some art experts encompass art of the year 2010, as "modern art", there is absolutely nothing modern about art in these times. This fact does not strip of value or novelty of the art of today. However the message of art through out history remains the same, therefore there is nothing modern about it. The art of Public Art Squad is lined up to confront the noisy city, with "silent" creations. Reserved of esoterism and charged with a significant degree of abstraction it looses the shapes but does not loose the mythology. (Image Bondi Beach Pavilion – Photographer Oliver Strew. COPYRIGHT © Courtesy of Public Art Squad.)

The art of Public Art Squad, represents and respects human values. As it takes place in Public Art spaces, it seems to be envisioned for everyone, the young, the old, the high elites, middle or working class, a message or an image for everyone. Public Art Squad, working mostly in two dimensions, ignores complex shading, and is obviously influenced by strong defining lines. Unclear yet clear, contrasted, and paradoxical, as easy to be found, as it easy to be ignored, the work blends into the city or stage. Traces of different movements can be picked up from Public Art Squad. None of these movements are insignificant nor lack deep philosophical expressions, they are to mention just some; original native communities, impressionism, chauvinism, naturalism, cubism, and social movements created in hard times of politics. The social issue as mentioned is present as a reflection of today's society. So what does the art of Public Art Squad reflect upon? Is society interested in esthetical forms, ads, and colours we can literally "eat"? Does society doubt to speak up? Has society become an crowd of individuals in personal pursuits of peace and security, through consumerism? Prehaps, Public Art Squad's most powerful message is that of an Universal and Natural Existence. As Fritz Baumgart said, "the artists ordain a universe in an atomized world".




Watching Public Art Squad at work is to become aware of the complex process of what appears to be simple. A symbolic representation of the mechanism of the giant city which we have come to live with. The buckets filled with shapes, hundreds of them, colours live in the palets, rocks, plaster, cement, machines, metals, plastics, the materials are almost infinite. Every rock has its place, however some are "Pollockly" dropped. Art automatic, and art informel meet the genius of the subconscious, as it had planned to do.

Davis Humphries and his Public Art Squad do not work in complete isolation. This separates them from other artists and is a key issue that will be present in their final work. The doors of their studio are in the open. Creating where people stop to look and comment, most likely "interrupt" the process and leave behind "footprints" drying in the wet cement under the Australian Sun. The voyageurs of the creation method are plastered into the murals, floors, and bending shapes. Working in Public Spaces, unexpected they become.

As in the doting of the neo-impressionism a complex and complete result is achieved by observation of the art piece from the distance. The decoding needed to understand the finished piece speaks by itself. Again the abstraction takes shapes in the mind. The mind builds the image, the common sense connects the dots, the separation allows for the natural "pixels" to take a personal shape and a personal message.What is the role of public art in public spaces? To educate? To entertain? To convey a message? To become functional? Or all of the above? Why do we need art to remind us of nature? Why do we forget when walking the streets? The elimination of objectivity is dissolved by the senses, and the senses are flooded with "socially policy filled " information when we walk the streets or work our world. Therefore Public Art Squad comes in to provide the senses with an image of remembrance, an image that has its source in the message forgotten. It takes a real objective goal and committed professional to accomplish this.

Public Art Squad in Public Art Spaces
As we walk the streets we can see how Public Art is needed to convey a message. Social murals that cover the walls of the industrial complex tell a different story.The incredible colours attract our attention to such a degree that we no longer see the rusted metals and the coaled high chimneys as we did before. The message more powerful only for those who have the time to observe, or for those who can stop the constant flooding of the city machinery senses. However we keep walking... and keep find nothing.. no art, but ads, social responsibility campaigning posing as art, and more buildings. We can argue that the lack of artistic value, and the non presence of art in the city is in fact due to the deficit of artists. What are the dangers of becoming a society void of art? What are the dangers of art stopping people on their fast walk? What are the dangers of reading the sky? Where do we get our information from? (Image ‘Think Globally Act Locally ‘– Community mual Redfern - The Sulman Award – Photographer Geoff Kleem. COPYRIGHT © Courtesy of Public Art Squad.) In the sunny heating plaza the day turns afternoon, the steps become gravitational when the new generations of jumpers fly by. The National Libraries, or Public Libraries are empty. The buildings impressive intimidation becomes nothing for the jumpers. Monumental sculptures of historic meaning are their stairways, the graphite is their water, the gardens are their witness. The crowd of women, in equality rights, and men, both tied up in suits and ties, walk by, never looking at the impossible jump. The jumpers land down to earth, breathe in, and look to the right, there their eyes find and take in, the work of Public Art Squad. They rest there inside the message, the think about jumping over it. "It would be better to jump over painting floors, more of a rush, you see?", one jumper thinks. The silence of the movement of the antagonic workers continue. "Please keep off the grass", reads the sing in the plaza. But the smell of the grass fills our nostrils becoming temptation. Public Art Squad invitse us into a different world which speeds differently has a different mind and different shadows and light. Basically it is a different dimension. In these dimensions the cultures dress it up, some groups smile and ferries us about. The movement, dreaming no worries, creates a reality to compete with the existent world.

Public Art Squad has the objective of a purified art which connects us with reality. With fundamental colours and simple shapes inserted, the inner private world of the artist is one we all share. It is the "outside-inside" world. Public Art Squad as the movement "Stijl" or the Socialist Realism of the 1930s inserts figures into the background. The harmony and the complex steps of the process of this non-message insertion is like the blue which drops like blood, but appears to be water, as it is surrounded with sea shapes. Does Public Art Squad care about interpreting their own work? The impression of being suspended or "floating above", created by Public Art Squad, resembles infinity visions, and awakens our curiosity. Such as the Bauhaus movement, Public Art Squad, plays with what is called in art, radiation colouring.

The Economy of Public Art Spaces
The world of graphic propaganda and ads are upon us. Through history, the art work of Joseph Albers, Victor Vasarely, Warhol and many defined a place for propaganda in art. The lost tradition of art is only the lost tradition of art in society. There are three types of Public Spaces, as there are three kind of nourishments. These are; Government spaces, (plazas and museums) Corporate spaces (Shopping Malls, centres, industries, and others), and the rest of the city and land (murals which are sometimes taken by policy makers, but are free to anyone). While the hearts are for sale, Public Art Squad takes on its new work. But how does budget influence their work? What is the economy behind Public Art ? What are the factors which define the bottom line of art? The economy is simple. Simple questions must be answered. What is the cost? What is the profit? What is the value? So, how do we measure profit in Public Art Spaces? How do we put a price on articles that are not for sale, but created to "permanently" strive? The profit in economy comes in art from, how much people does it attract, what type of people does it attract, and will these spectators be influenced by the art itself? To be "successful" is to interest the public. To do this the artist must have an understanding of what the public may be curiously aroused by it. (Image above: The Maiden of Abundance - mosaic mural in the Entrance lobby of Skygarden Sydney. Photographer John Fotiatus. COPYRIGHT © Courtesy of Public Art Squad). Sykygarden Movie Part 1 & Skygardenmovie Part 2.

If we take away the value of nourishing the general public with impressions, economy is all that is left. Curiously enough if we where to stop 20, 100 or even 2000 people on the streets and ask them for their opinion on Public Art Spaces, we would probably get an occasional intersting answer, followed by thousands of "I think it is good", "Brilliant", or "It is ridiculous", "I do not like it". But is this answer not influenced by the small amount of Public Art on the streets. How can the public now how they will feel about a piece of art they yet have not experienced?

Engineering the Forms of the "Psyche"
The forms of engineering have nothing to do with painting. They belong to the possibilities of configurations. Beyond one single representation and in an effort to represent the anti-art of Public Art Squad aims to recover the lost reality. To overcome the contradiction existing between life as we know it, and art is success. The reproduction of the visual experiences of Public Art Squad, which we are able to breathe though our eyes, do not attempt to be an accurate copy of nature, but they do provide a value to the Goliath´s Architectural Machinery.
David Humphries, Director of Public Art Squad, states; "The materials I use provide an inspirational range of colour, durability, flexibility and functionality. Architectural and environmental references influence the style and statement of the work, but ultimately it is about creating a sense of place relevant to its audience: We shape out environment and our environment shapes us "
The coin of organic nature, the silver of physics phenomenons is a double revelation. And what does this tell us about ourselves? In the economic illusion of human made structures, which have changed through out the centuries, Public Art has remained present, poised and ready, giving and nourshing. The ephimerous industrial art has nothing on stars and rocks which cross the eternal seas of generations.

Enigmas of moral and social critic antagonize the freedom and the originality of nature´s reality. It is the paradigma of the source, the tool, the message, the art, and the veritas return. Unravelling the mystery is not necessary to step into Public Art Squad and their work, but to do so can be very rewarding.

Bauhaus de Weimar stated, "Man is not only an organism of flesh and bones, but a mechanism of numbers and measures". If "what happens" is always expressed in colours, what would the World be like if it where filled with Public Art? On the other hand, Winston Churchill described the importance of the physical environment in moulding human values when he said; "we shape our buildings and our buildings shape us." David Humphries ends this article by saying; "I believe our environment reflects our values and that the arts are an integral part of our life. We bear a considerable responsibility when we pass on these values to future generations."




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