In 2017, with funding from Knight Foundation, Forecast Public Art had the unique opportunity to partner with one District in St. Paul to produce a series of temporary “demonstration projects” that share and model processes and best practices for working with artists and communities and encourage spontaneous engagement in public space.
Forecast sees a growing movement of DIY grassroots public art engagement taking place outside of traditional institutions and authorities. This kind of public art is about creating connections between people, rather than making art as an end goal. It’s about enhancing public life and social cohesion, and stirring the socioeconomic pot using “outside the box” recipes, including tactical urbanism, prototyping, and pop-up engagement.
In early 2017, Forecast put out an RFI and selected one district partner—the Union Park District—to participate by identifying sites, connecting to community concerns, issues and questions, reaching out to community members, and more.
The District Arts (DARTS) project focused on the heavily trafficked University/Snelling intersection: a multi-modal hub for cars, pedestrians, light-rail transit and buses, and the busiest intersection in the Union Park District. With a soccer stadium and major redevelopment planned nearby, this area will see even more traffic and congestion in the near future. A call for artist qualifications sought projects near the intersection that met the following criteria:
- activate public spaces for people rather than vehicles
- inspire improvements to the pedestrian experience
- encourage the use of modes of transportation other than cars
What evolved from selected artists Emily Stover and Paul Dickinson was the Social Resource Library Machine, a pop-up bookmobile that invited people to take a moment to browse through free books. Stover and Dickinson’s work took the form of a week-long series of daily sessions of the temporary bookmobile and included programmed activities such as a performance from local comedian Mary Mack, a music and movement session with Playing with Music and a reading with local writer Jesse Sawyer. Passersby interacted with the project from 11am-4pm during the week of August 7-11, 2017.