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Art, environment, technology on the Mall

David Beach  |  06/22/08 @ 8:59pm

Mall B in downtown Cleveland has a new temporary art and landscape installation that evokes the promise of the green city of the future. Entitled "The Verdant Walk," the installation creates a stunning landscape by bringing more than 4,000 square feet of native Ohio grasses to the city's center, punctuated by a series of seven sculptures which will be illuminated at night by new-technology solar fabric panels.

Toronto-based artists and landscape architects Peter North and Alissa North of North Design Office created the installation, which will remain on the Mall until 2010. Cleveland Public Art organized the project.

"The idea for 'The Verdant Walk' emerged from observations of Cleveland's industrial heritage and its new direction moving toward a green and sustainable city," says Peter North. "We see Cleveland as a city that is evolving from its position as a powerhouse of the industrial era that is now transitioning to a greater focus on alternative forms of energy, sustainable development, and manufacturing, and is positioning itself to move thoughtfully into the next era. 'The Verdant Walk' is a response to these two forces-Cleveland's industrial heritage and its new green agenda."

The installation's sculptural forms are derived from Cleveland's renowned relationship to industry, craftsmanship, and innovation. They represent the use of new technologies and materials to illustrate future possibilities. The forms are fluid and organic in nature to capture a sense of evolution toward green technologies. During the spring and summer, the metal armatures of the sculptures will be covered with stretchable fabric coverings. Woven into the covers are innovative flexible solar panels and LED (light emitting diode) lighting systems that will illuminate the sculptures at night. During the fall and winter, the sculpture's covers will be removed, revealing the forms beneath and adding to the seasonal variation of the artwork. The strips of dynamic flowing grasses, which include a mixture of six native Ohio grasses, were cultivated for the project in Hiram, OH, by the Ohio Prairie Nursery, a specialist in regional landscapes. The linear grass patterns will capture the winds coming from Lake Erie and celebrate the inseparability of Cleveland from the Cuyahoga River and its waterfront location.

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