Every year, we like to step back, evaluate and applaud the brands and artists who have inspired and elated us with their teamwork. This time around we’ve based our selection on collaborations that have been successful at walking the line of artistic integrity while still achieving accessibility, allowing them to benefit the public at large. We’ve handpicked art-fusion collaborations we felt were approachable, but also relevant – either environmentally, socially or culturally across the full spectrum – to everyone from children to seniors, pedestrians to drivers, shoppers to spectators.
Here are the three that rose to the very top.
Park in Art: “The Z” & Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services.
Put a ten story building, 33,000 square feet of future retail space, 1,300 parking spots and 27 internationally recognized artists together and what do you get? According to Dan Mullen, the vice president of development at Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services in Detroit, you get “… a place of destination and a place to visit time and time again.” Judging by the many visitors and locals alike who come back to “the Z” again and again while snapping photograph after photograph to share on pretty much every social media platform available, he’s right.
In her photo-essay “Park in Art,” Sharon Vanderkaay, a Detroit-born artist and designer accurately remarked, “The Z could have been just another utilitarian design in a city that needs new infrastructure. But Dan Gilbert choose to make the most of this opportunity to reinforce Detroit’s image as a fascinating, optimistic, human place. Also this venture sends the message that creative approaches are welcome here.” Hats off to Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services for such a bold and beautiful move.
“The Z” was curated by Detroit’s own Library Street Collective who not only undertook the task of curating, but also managing the logistics of inviting, scheduling and hosting the 27 international artists to actually paint the 10 story building. The end result is an astonishing parking garage that not only showcases artists’ work, but also allows Detroit to hold an important survey of today’s emerging new muralism. The project is a valuable documentation of contemporary aesthetics that feed contemporary art forms today. Well-done LSC!
Restoration LEGO: ‘Dispatchwork’ by Jan Vormann.
Although the Dispatchwork project started back in 2009, it’s only in recent years that it has grown into something of a global movement. As of today, the project has been adopted by over 100 cities around the globe, including our very own Toronto. A German artist, Jan Vormann, took the initial task of improving appearances of public spaces by inserting pieces of LEGO to seal cracks and crevices in broken walls of urban structures. Even though the repairs were temporary, the playful and imaginative ‘hands-on’ approach has been offering immediate appreciation and joy to all who see them.
Since 2009, many other urban participants worldwide, took up Jan Vormann’s vision and have started to create their own LEGO patches in their own cities. Through the Dispatchers forum When & Where, anyone interested can apply to participate and share their photographs with their own artistic patches. Even though the project wasn’t originally initiated by LEGO, at least not officially, it demonstrates the incredible force a global brand can achieve, be it in Beijing or Beirut. Congrats LEGO & Jan Vormann!
The Politics of Fashion: Sterling Ruby & Raf Simons.
Just as the Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby’s installations and sculptures can overwhelm viewers with their colour, size and texture, so can his political views. With this fashion collaboration, the German-born artist did not compromise, but brought his personal politics into fashion and fashion back into politics. In collaborating with the Belgian designer Raf Simons, Ruby demonstrated that art and fashion can coexist, benefit and influence each other. Even though the menswear collection included highly-priced, hand-dyed, limited-edition pieces accessible only to a select group, its political and aesthetic impact was felt democratically across all ranks of the fashion and art industry. Nicely done.
We hope all three can hear our applause all the way from Canada.
In our next post, we’ll take a look at how to prevent art-fusion collaborations from potential failures. See you then.