MEMPHIS, TN (October 17, 2013) – Local artist Yvonne Bobo installed a 30-foot steel sculpture entitled “Gyroscopic” at the corner of Cooper and Madison last week. The top is made of multiple stainless steel rings, while the base is made from steel coated with bronze and a blue patina. In the coming weeks, the top of the sculpture will be illuminated with LEDs, and a motor will be activated, moving the outer ring of the top portion at 1 RPM, while the inner ring remains wind activated.
Work began on the sculpture over a year ago when Lou Loeb engaged Bobo through a partnership with Carol DeForest. “I’ve worked with Carol on several projects throughout the years,” says Loeb. “Carol was the ideal choice for selecting artists for the Square, as proven by Yvonne’s sculpture. Yvonne’s work is beautiful and modern, yet compatible with the historical architecture. It’s exactly what that corner needs.”
Bobo credits Loeb with helping her find the perfect look for an installation in Overton Square. “The evolution of the piece is what’s interesting about the process,” says Bobo. “I really enjoyed working with Lou. He is a visionary, and he set a precedent for something different in Memphis. When I started moving in that direction, at some point the piece just took over.”
Bobo is inspired by the work of kinetic sculptor George Rickey as well as existing Memphis landmarks. “When I moved to Memphis, I was immediately intrigued by the sputnik at Joe’s Liquors on Poplar,” says Bobo. “I couldn’t stop looking at it.”
The sculpture in Overton Square was perhaps Bobo’s most sizable challenge to date. “It was very complicated to construct,” says Bobo. “Building something you can’t physically move is exponentially more complicated to do. It took two forklifts and a scissor lift to construct the base. I owe a big thanks to Tylur French for not only being an important consultant and most trusted friend, but for driving the second forklift!”
Each part of the kinetic element at the top of the structure is made from sheet metal fabricated into tubing. “The top is 150 feet of continuous welding,” says Bobo. “It may be the most challenging welding project I’ve ever tackled.”
Yvonne Bobo has made a name for herself as an expert in public installations. She has work on display at Peabody Park, the Cancer Survivors Memorial at Audobon Park, LeBonheur Children’s Hospital, Southern School of Optometry and the Child Advocacy Center, among others. Upcoming projects include installations at the FedEx House at LeBonheur and Southside Park.
A native of Florida, Bobo moved to Waynesboro, TN in 1998 to apprentice under woodworker Harvey Baker. Her search for work in eventually resulted in a relocation to Memphis in 2000. Bobo recently opened her own shop in the Crosstown area on Cleveland. “I have been incredibly fortunate to be a part of public art in Memphis,” says Bobo. “Memphis has provided me both amazing opportunities for large scale sculpture and an encouraging creative community to be a part of.”
Full press release here. Commercial Appeal coverage here.
The Broad Avenue Arts District has won a $350,000 grant from ArtPlace America, which will transform the warehouse loading dock at 2542 Broad Avenue into a performing arts stage and will turn the iconic Broad Avenue water tower into a piece of public art. The entire area will be known as the Broad Avenue Water Tower Depot.
At the press event announcing the grant on May 22, Bob Loeb stated, “To see these cities that are regenerating and rebuilding themselves is just really exciting. It’s really regenerative if you give it a chance and part of pulling people together to work for the common good is a lot of fun.”
Mayor Wharton made the announcement at the press event, and stated, ““We are becoming known everywhere about creative place making. There’s only one of these. You can’t order this anywhere. This is uniquely Memphis.”
“’This grant provides a major boost to an historic area of our city that has been going through a grass-roots renaissance,’ Wharton said in a prepared statement. ‘It is a creative use of space that will double as industrial warehouse and loading dock during the week, and as a public and artistic gathering space on weekends and for special events.’
The project entails the construction of a terraced seating and public art installation area, a national competition for an artistic design for the water tower; a dance festival, and eight weekends of free outdoor community dance concerts, including dance classes and live music.
‘The project and the grant could not have happened without the enthusiastic participation of Loeb Properties, which owns the warehouse and water tower, and Power & Tel, which uses the space and loading dock every day,’ David Wayne Brown, president of the Historic Broad Business Association, said in prepared remarks.”
Read more about the project at the following links:
We were contacted last week by Action News 5 for a story to update the community on the recent renovations happening at Overton Square. Our very own Bob Loeb walked the team through Overton Square and shared with them the exciting projects that are in full swing to be completed by the end of the year.
Overton Square’s “face lift”, as Channel 5 called it, is moving right along. Bob was quick to emphasize that the Square is not just about the local and national food and beverage attractions, but also creating venues for family, fitness, and art and theater enjoyment. We are excited and appreciative that the Memphis community has been giving Overton Square such great feedback.
While we are working hard to restore Overton Square to its former glory, we are also striving to bring new life to the city. We want to attract patrons who remember the Overton Square from the 70s, but also draw in younger Memphians of today to fall in love with this great city. We want Overton Square to be familiar yet new. Bob said it best: ”To have a vibrant downtown, you have to have a healthy Midtown.”
Loeb Properties wants the best for Memphis, and our hope is that this rebirth of Overton Square is a way to make it even better!
Memphis Daily News recently sat down with Louis Loeb, Executive VP of Asset Management, and Tom Hayes, VP Construction, to talk all things public art.
Sarah Baker writes,
“Loeb Properties Inc. is investing more than $20 million to revive the once-booming arts and entertainment district of the 1970s and 1980s. That includes adding new tenants to expand Overton Square’s footprint, redesigning existing structures and building new ones, and implementing a dozen or so multimedia art projects throughout.
‘We’re trying to get a little bit of everything – sculpture, mosaics, 3D interactive pieces,’ said Louis Loeb, executive vice president asset management for Loeb Properties. ‘It’s really been sort of difficult because we haven’t had a budget for it. We want to do a number of things, and it’s just developed a life of itself.’
Loeb’s first dabble into the art scene was in the early 1990s when the firm placed Roy Tamboli’s steel Pangean Disk sculpture at the Poplar Viaduct. That was followed by the mural at South Cooper Street and Madison Avenue on the north-facing wall that now houses YoLo Frozen Yogurt, and then the mural at Central Avenue and East Parkway where Kwik Shop Grill is housed.
‘Those murals to me became part of that landscape of those parts of town,’ said Tom Hayes, Loeb’s vice president construction. ‘They’re kind of civic offerings as much as they are just artwork. They’re just betterment to that part of the city.’”
Loeb has hired Carol DeForest to be the art consultant for the Overton Square project.
“Other art projects Loeb has committed to in the square include Yvonne Bobo’s 25-foot-sculpture at the corner of Madison and Cooper, Sean Murphy’s interactive lighted wind chimes for the Trimble Courtyard Clock Tower, Lea Holland’s mosaic op-art in the Griffin Garden, Suzy Hendrix’s backlit stained glass for the upstairs windows above the former TGI Friday’s, Mary Norman’s three-dimensional mural on the south security office, Thorne Edwards’ mosaic on the garage, as well as another mural by Lynch that spans three walls.
‘We actually have more ideas now than we know how to really fit into Overton Square,’ Loeb said. ‘What we’re going to do after we get the Square wrapped up is continue to collaborate with (DeForest) to do more public art around our portfolio.’”
Loeb Properties has always looked for ways to incorporate art into our shopping center developments, where appropriate, as they can add a sense of place, more buy-in from the patron, and add an intangible value to the property.
As referenced in this post, many art installations are taking shape or are in the works for Overton Square.
The first piece in production is a mural by David Lynch, on the north-facing wall of the Bari Ristorante building, at 22 South Cooper. Upon first look, the wall has a lot of challenges, with the number of windows, electrical attachments, and wires:
Here are some words about the project, straight from the artist, David Lynch:
First it was an honor to work with Lou [Loeb] & Carol [Deforest] on such a main-statement mural for Overton Square in which I spent a lot of time in my youth – some good, some bad. The area is so rich in character with the older buildings and with Overton Park as the backdrop, that I wanted to capture that in the art piece.
As for the Bari Wall itself, some would say that it would be hard to incorporate 13 windows, 2 doors and a lot of meters and wires into a mural, but I envisioned the basis for the final mural from the first time that I saw the wall. It is actually a combination of art styles, one being my contemporary cityscape style, then I blended in a bit of folk art styling - in the sense that I layered the buildings to give it a look of depth, but all the facades are facing forward – yet the piece still has depth and dimensions.
As for the progress, for such a detailed piece, the cold weather, and ALL of the rain lately, I think it is coming along great. I look forward to seeing it complete and spending many days in Overton Square this year.
Here is a rendering of the completed concept:
Shaped blocks were added to the roof line of the building to accommodate the design.
Here is progress on the mural as of 1/22/13:
We look forward to seeing this fine work of art continue to take shape and witnessing the the amazing impact it will have on Overton Square’s aesthetic presence. Patrons will be able to enjoy this creative and colorful masterpiece for years to come!
In partnership with the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team and Indie Style Market, Loeb has been pleased to help sponsor the very first “MemShop” at Overton Square.
In an effort to activate vacant storefronts for pop-up shops, the Mayor’s Innovation Team and Indie Style Market have organized over 40 local artisans and creatives to come together and sell their goods in a market-like setting (with a single point-of-sale) for the three weekends in December leading up to Christmas. In addition, Downtown Memphis clothier Sache has set up shop, along with Cosmic Collective, which is a partnership between Cosmic Coconut and Give Yoga Memphis. Bluff City Coffee is also selling coffee on-site.
Quoted in the Daily News article on Memshop, Abby Miller, project manager for the Mayor’s Innovation Team, said the following:
“This MemShop at Overton Square is the first time we’re doing a longer-term sort of pop-up shop,” Miller said. “We do plan to continue this initiative throughout the coming years, looking at other neighborhoods in the Madison/Cleveland corridors, as well as South Memphis and Binghampton. The longer-term vision is to have more frequent and regular pop-up shops to help businesses and entrepreneurs enter the market or test new markets around the city.”
The first Friday MemShop was open, Santa came to light the Overton Square Christmas tree. Mayor Wharton himself joined us too!
Loeb Properties is pleased that Overton Square can be used in such a creative and resourceful way for the community and neighborhood, especially during this period of ongoing construction and renovations.
Yesterday, Memphis art leaders met with the Loeb Overton Square team to discuss the role of the arts at Overton Square in its redevelopment. Tom Bailey, Jr. covered the story for the Commercial Appeal:
(Loeb) showed photos of blank building walls where murals can be painted and common spaces where sculptures can be placed.
Rob Norcross of LRK Architects, which is leading the planning/design for Loeb, even suggested the mammoth sides of the parking garage could be a space for monumental art.
Loeb hopes most of the incoming restaurants will offer live music. The Square could have weekly or monthly artist markets, he said.
We recently approached Jackie Nichols, Executive Director of Playhouse on the Square, Memphis’ professional actors theater based in Overton Square, and asked him to share his “Top 5 Reasons that Overton Square is the Perfect Theater District.”
Here’s what he came up with:
1. Great restaurants in walking distance to the theatre. Park once.
2. Centrally located for those living out east or downtown.
3. Midtown has a great history of new and exciting theatre created of, by, and for Memphians.
4. Other great cultural opportunities surrounding the Theatre District, such as the Brooks, Levitt Shell, the Zoo, Memphis College of Art…
5. Safe, well-lit parking; this will be even better after the new garage is built.