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 June 2018, JTK Studios LLC and SP Studio LLC were brought on board as Planning Consultants for the Pioneer Tower Iconic Public Art Project based on their decade long experience presenting visionary artists’ work to the North Texas community free of charge at the AURORA Biennial.
In 2010, artists Joshua King and Shane Pennington co-founded Aurora with Veletta Forsythe Lill and serve as its managing and creative directors. To date, the biennial event has attracted more than 170,000 visitors, and has commissioned and presented over 300 local and international artists. Aurora has expanded over the years from a small public arts organization to a multifaceted institution with the ability to give back to artists and creatives in the region. Beginning in November 2020 through 2021, Aurora is presenting a variety of free, remote and socially-distanced events in response to COVID-19.
For the Pioneer Tower Iconic Public Art Project, King and Pennington worked with the City of Fort Worth’s architectural consultant to specify art infrastructure, including electric and data connections on all four sides of the tower to support powerful video projection equipment. In addition, they produced a 3D scan of the tower that the commissioned artists are using to format their projection mapping video artworks. In Spring 2019, they presented qualifications of new media curators and facilitated the selection of DooEun Choi, who later recommended artists Refik Anadol and Quayola for the project. King and Pennington are coordinating technical aspects with them as their artworks are being developed in preparation for projection on the facades of Pioneer Tower in 2021.
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.