Public Art in the Yates Motor Co. Building: Same Message, Different Methods

When the former Yates Motor Co. Building was taken over on November 13th it was in the process of becoming the temporary home of an art installation for the holiday season - an effort led by the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership. Those events derailed the art installation, but did not curtail it. The art installation will be unveiled this Friday, December 9th, 2011. The road has not been an easy one as described in this blog post by Meg McGurk of the Downtown Partnership.

"Today we began installing the long-awaited holiday art display in those windows. It will be finished on Friday.  The display will be a visual testament to what this winter season brings to us as a community – both a sense of focusing inward and yet reaching out to our family and friends to celebrate. It is styled much in the tradition of New York's famous department store holiday window displays.

However, it will not be full of blinking lights and shiny trees. It's rather fun to be challenged to put up a holiday display with no electricity! Instead it is truly a unique work of art by a talented and thoughtful UNC art student, Adrian Schlesinger, who was tasked with creating a holiday display; and yet was left with a much more meaningful experience. We gave Adrian ideas, she came back with a vision.

There will be some familiar figures in that window, a fabulous poem from Shel Silverstein, and even a few symbolic references to the events of Sunday, November 13.  The display would have long been complete before Thanksgiving if not for that ‘occupation’. To ignore it now would be too difficult.

My gut tells me that the Yates building has now become a symbol in the struggle for disenfranchised voices to be heard – so today may not be the last time I scrap graffiti off of those windows. So ultimately, those that spray the paint and those that scrap it off aren’t that much different. We both have a passionate message to share just a different way to do it.  

Unfortunately, the message of this art - take care of each other in the bleakest of times - may never resonate with those standing in the bushes, in the dark of night, with the can of spray paint poised to strike." 

Read the whole post at the Downtown Partnership's blog.



On Dec. 9th I visited the Yates Motor Co. building to see if I could lend a hand with the art exhibit.  Adrian Schlesinger and the Downtown Partnership had it under control. Rae Buckley, TOCH planning dept, was up on a 8ft ladder hanging canvases and there were smiles all around. I encourage everyone to stop, look and reflect.......

I was really impressed with the depth of Meg's blog post. (I hope peopel will read the whole thing, it's worth it.) She really makes an effort to think about the goals and motivations of others, something we could all do more of. It's especially surprising to see such multidimensional thoughts from the Downtown Partnership which often seems to view its mission more narrowly.I'm looking forward to seeing the exhibit the next time I'm on the west end.


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