York, Ala. (2013) – If you approached a resident of York, Alabama, a couple years back and asked about the town’s biggest eyesore, you would likely have heard about the salmon-colored house on Main Street. You know the one, they’d say. The roof is caving in. One side of the house seems to be sliding down a hill.
Demolishing the property would have been straightforward—a quick way to erase a patch of urban blight. Instead, local residents and the community organization Coleman Center for the Arts teamed up with artist Matthew Mazzotta to repurpose the building’s usable materials into OPEN HOUSE, a house-shaped structure that unfolds to reveal rows of public seating. The structure serves as a public venue for outdoor concerts and other special events, an amenity previously lacking in town. The project began as a conversation between curators, residents, and the artist, and today it still requires cooperation—it takes four people and half an hour to transform the structure into seating. The artist hopes the unique seating project will address the lack of public space in York in a way that recalls the past but offers a picture of hope for what is possible for the city in the future.