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Spartanburg City Council views design concepts for $1 million public art project funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies

City selected as one of the winners in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge

Spartanburg City Council on Monday night approved design concepts for a $1M public art project that will light up neighborhoods later this year.  The funding is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies. In 2015, the City of Spartanburg was selected as one of four cities nationwide to take part in Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, a new program to support temporary public art projects that celebrate creativity, enhance urban identity, encourage public-private partnerships, and drive economic development.

Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light will bring art installations to nine sites benefiting 10 neighborhoods. The lights will be switched on Oct. 4, 2016, in conjunction with National Night Out. The temporary art instillation is a partnership among internationally recognized light and digital media artist Erwin Redl, The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, the City of Spartanburg and civic leadership. The project is using a collaborative, neighborhood-based art-making process to enhance community policing and public safety efforts aligned with the annual National Night Out program.

Jennifer Evins, president/CEO of The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, said residents have been involved in every step of the planning and design process, including each neighborhood submitting a letter of interest in order to be included in the project.

“Community involvement and support, coupled with Erwin Redl’s artistic vision, is what truly makes this effort unique and wonderful,” Evins said. “As we know, Spartanburg is an amazing place to live, work and play, and Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light will bring visitors from far and wide to experience our community – many for the first time.”

Redl, whose art installations have illuminated spaces in Austria, New York City and Charlotte, N.C., has been meeting with neighborhood residents and community leaders to bring the Spartanburg art project to life.

“With the generous support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, art is able to take a leadership role in building community, placemaking and creating a unique identity through a series of aesthetic interventions,” Redl said. “Each project is tailored to its specific environment and explores artistic opportunities through light-based installations. The scale, medium and design vary significantly, ranging from workshop-based video and smaller light installations to large-scale illuminations of two smokestacks.”

City of Spartanburg Police Chief Alonzo Thompson said the project symbolizes residents’ commitment to the city and to each other to improve quality of life.

“Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light is an opportunity to enhance existing partnerships, foster new relationships and build community pride,” Thompson said. “It is also a creative, collaborative effort that exposes citizens of all ages and backgrounds to the arts. It provides the opportunity to transform spaces utilizing lights while creating opportunities for police-community interactions that enhances crime prevention efforts. I am excited that this project will not only transform spaces but will also transform our community’s approach to crime prevention.”

The project designs are:

Smokestacks’ Glow – Northside and Beaumont Mill
This project will illuminate the smokestacks at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Northside neighborhood and the former Beaumont Mill. The smokestacks will be illuminated from the ground with multiple programmable, LED flood lights. Different synchronized color sequences will light up the smokestacks at night. The structures will be covered in a checkerboard pattern of blue and white fabric, which waves in the wind.

Downtown Mobile – Downtown Spartanburg
Four curtains of transparent color swatches are assembled into large-scale mobiles and suspended above a downtown lot, also home to Sparkle City Mini Putt. Each curtain has 2,700 color swatches for a total of 10,800 combined. Each swatch is 4 inches square and made of 1/8 inch transparent acrylic. During the day, sunlight will illuminate the mobile in a way similar to stained glass. At night, LED floodlights will illuminate the mobile from below.

Benchmark C.C. Woodson – Forest Park
A light bench will be placed near the entrance to the C.C. Woodson Recreation Center. The bench consists of multiple, individually programmable light panels, which are aligned along the wall. The installation creates a social space to experience and share in the impact of the slow moving lights.

National Beta Swing – Hampton Heights
This installation will feature a kinetic light installation mounted behind the north façade of the National Beta headquarters. Twenty-six pendulums will be attached inside the windows, with two pendulums per window. Each pendulum consists of a 4-foot-long arm with a small fan and a bright, white LED facing the window. The movement of each pendulum and brightness of each LED can be controlled by a microprocessor. The shifting patterns will transform the façade into a large, ever-changing clockwork.

Video Village – Highland Neighborhood
Residents will become filmmakers, sharing their stories and the history of their neighborhood in this art project. Redl, project Co-Curator of Outreach and Interpretation Elizabeth Goddard, who is also executive director of the Spartanburg Art Museum; and Directors of the Highlands Arts Project, Tim Farrell and Robyn Hussa Farrell, with White Elephant Productions, are working with residents to create short video pieces that will be projected onto the second-story windows of vacant housing structures in the Highland community. Participants will learn about social media, digital storytelling and other skills while sharing the neighborhood’s story.

Islands of Light – Maxwell Hills and Duncan Park
Eight floating light islands will be placed in the center of Duncan Park Lake. Each island will hold 16 white rods arranged in a circle, representing 128 rods in total. The islands will be submerged below the waterline, leaving only the rods visible. Each of those rods will feature a high-brightness, programmable light at the top. The rods will sway as waves gently rock the islands.

All Under One Roof – South Converse
This installation will be located at a picnic shelter at the north entrance of South Converse Street Park. Programmable, colored LED lights will be affixed to the horizontal trusses underneath the shelter’s roof. The installation will illuminate the underside of the structure. This site is intended to become a community workshop with residents and students from the Daniel Morgan Technology Center learning to program light sequences.

River Poetry – Andrews Farm and Converse Heights
Programmable, LED signs will be suspended over Lawson’s Fork Creek on the Cottonwood Trail, which bridges the Andrews Farm and Converse Heights neighborhoods. The signs will display poetry, with words scrolling across each. The Hub City Writers Project, based in Spartanburg, will be working with residents to curate poems for the installation.

About The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg
The mission of The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, Inc. is to provide cultural leadership for Greater Spartanburg by developing, strengthening, and promoting the scope, excellence, and educational role of the arts, humanities, and sciences, and to further their significance in the life of our community and all of its citizens. Founded in 1968 with a current budget of $2.1 million, The Arts Partnership is the oldest and largest countywide arts agency in the state of South Carolina and is serving as the lead Arts Agency and Project Manager for Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light.

About the Artist
Erwin Redl is an Austrian-born artist with studios in Bowling Green, Ohio and New York City. In 1993, after his studies at the Vienna Music Academy, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for computer art studies at School of Visual Arts, New York, (MFA 1995). He lived in New York from 1993-2007 and moved to rural Ohio in 2007. Mr. Redl was featured as part of the 2002 Whitney Biennial, when he covered the museum’s facade with LED veils. He created a sound and light installation for the Austrian Pavilion at the World Expo in Zaragoza, Spain (2008). The Pacific Design Center’s Red Building in Los Angeles features four installations by the artist (2013). His largest work is a 590 ft. long outdoor LED-installation at the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio (2010). The artist’s work is collected by prominent institutions, such as the Whitney Museum New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Milwaukee Art Museum and Borusan Contemporary Istanbul as well as by many private collectors.

About the Public Art Challenge & Bloomberg Philanthropies
The City of Spartanburg was selected in 2015 as one of four temporary public art projects from across the United States to receive a grant award from the first-ever Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Other winning cities are Gary, IN, Spartanburg, SC, and Los Angeles, CA.  Full information on all projects can be found at

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.