By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
An art installation that will provide a safe space to connect is coming to Crane Park.
Montclair residents and artists Nina Cooke John and Charlie Spademan are bringing the installation to Montclair at no cost to the township for about four to six weeks the last week in March. Cooke John is the designer, while Spademan will be installing “Point of Action.”
During the holidays, the public art installation was at the Flatiron Public Plaza on 23rd Street New York. Designed by Cooke John’s firm, Studio Cooke John, “Point of Action” addresses connectivity and community building.
The installation consists of nine aluminum framed pavilions on six-foot concrete circles — illustrating the social distancing we have been adhering to — with ropes that are intertwined and part to allow people to step into the frame. In the center a “spotlight” illuminates the person and creates a safe connection to others inside other frames, as well as passersby. It took four months to construct all nine pavilions, said Spademan, whose art focuses primarily on ironwork, particularly on hand-forging.
It was last year’s winning design chosen for installation at the Flatiron Public Plaza, by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute.
“The pandemic brought about realities of issues long in existence. Now that our eyes have been opened to realities that have been with us all along, how do we move forward?” Cooke John said. “My hope is that Point of Action will show how to connect and engage going forward.”
The snow postponed the installment, which will be managed and maintained by the Montclair Center BID. The BID will also pay for the transportation of the installation to and from the site, Executive Director Jason Gleason said.
“Public art strengthens the community in which it is installed by connecting residents to each other in public space. [It creates] public space outside of the pockets of communities that they might otherwise be attached to,” according to the proposal sent to Montclair on the installation.
Councilman Peter Yacobelli,s who worked with the community and the artists to bring the installation to Montclair, hopes it will draw residents and visitors to the park as spring sets in.
“I think the subject matter of the art – self-reflection, bringing light into darkness, literally, are all things that are very relevant right now and that the community would appreciate,” Yacobellis said.
Gleason said the timing of the “immersive, interactive” art installation could not be better as spring begins to set and people want to venture out.
“It will be a conversation-starter and a reason to bring people together again,” Gleason said. “Art in parks is a no brainer.”
Yacobellis said the installation has garnered the support of neighbors, the owners of Architect Studios, Design Shed and The Loft, and residents of Union Gardens Apartments on Greenwood, 53 Greenwood and 70 Greenwood.
Jose German-Gomez, president of the Northeast Earth Coalition and Township of Montclair Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member, said the temporary installation will bring people to Crane Park, which hosts a native plant demonstration garden and butterfly release in August.
Community Affairs Director Steve Wood provided criteria that would need to be met with regard to protecting the pathways and grass.
Gleason said the BID and the artists hope to hold a ribbon cutting on March 25.