PIONEER TOWER ICONIC PUBLIC ART PROJECT

 

Public art helps to define Fort Worth’s character as a vibrant and sustainable 21st Century city by celebrating its storied history, contributing to its iconic destinations, shaping its distinct neighborhoods, and honoring its close connection to nature.” – Fort Worth Public Art Master Plan Update

In October 2016, master plan consultants Barbara Goldstein and Jessica Cusick began engaging residents in a process to envision new goals and aspirations for the Fort Worth Public Art program.  They asked, “Where do people gather in Fort Worth?” as a means to determine the best locations for “destination quality, iconic public artworks from nationally and internationally-recognized artists”.  Will Rogers Memorial Center’s Pioneer Tower in the Cultural District was one of four locations recommended for iconic artworks in the master plan update, adopted by City Council in 2017.

By early 2018, the City of Fort Worth’s plans to rehabilitate the Pioneer Tower, built in 1936 and listed on the National Register of History Places, were underway.  This offered an excellent opportunity to begin work on the City’s first iconic public art project.  In April 2018, the Fort Worth Art Commission’s recommended approach to for the project was presented to City Council.  Namely, projection mapping video artworks formatted to fit the unique architecture of Pioneer Tower by utilizing a 3D scan of the structure so that the artwork would wrap around the tower.  To serve as Project Planning Consultants, the City contracted with local artists and co-founders of Dallas Aurora (www.dallasaurora.com), Joshua King (JTK Studios) and Shane Pennington (SP Studio) to specify art infrastructure which was installed in conjunction with the rehabilitation of Pioneer Tower and is now in place.

In November 2018, Council Member Dennis Shingleton appointed a Pioneer Tower Project Core Team composed of Cultural District and community stakeholders to provide input throughout the course of the project. In April 2019, King and Pennington guided the Core Team’s appointed Curatorial Committee through a process that led to the selection of New York-based new media curator DooEun Choi.

Pioneer Tower as a Four-sided “Canvas” for Projection Mapping Videos

On September 26, 2019, DooEun Choi presented internationally renowned new media artists to the Pioneer Tower Project Core Team who recommended that both Quayola (Quayola.com) and Refik Anadol (RefikAnadol.com) be invited to prepare proposals for the project. The Art Commission concurred with that recommendation on October 7, 2019. The artists and the curator visited Fort Worth in late January 2020 to tour the tower, conduct research, meet with potential institutional collaborators, and attend the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

At the Fort Worth Art Commission meeting of May 11, 2020, the artists remotely presented exciting proposals.  On June 23, 2020, City Council acted on the Art Commission’s recommendations by authorizing Artwork Commission Agreements with Quayola Studio Ltd and Refik Anadol Studio, LLC, for the Pioneer Tower Iconic Public Art Project.  The artists are currently gathering large data sets to developing their artworks which will employ complex computer algorithms and artificial intelligence to interpret Fort Worth’s natural beauty, rich diversity, and storied history.

Augmenting City of Fort Worth public art budgets with funds from other sources for iconic public art projects is recommended in the Fort Worth Public Art Master Plan Update.  The Arts Council of Fort Worth, which manages the Fort Worth Public Art program, has successfully secured grants totaling $235,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Texas Commission on the Arts for the Pioneer Tower Iconic Public Art Project.

The premiere of the works by Refik Anadol and Quayola will be the centerpiece for a free community event currently scheduled for the last weekend in February 2021.  More information about the event will be available soon.