Art, Music and Food Align to Celebrate Summer in Forman Park
A Midsummer Night’s Fling in Forman Park, an enchanted, family-friendly evening along the Connective Corridor featuring music, food and art, will be held on Friday, Aug. 22, from 6-10 p.m. in Forman Park in downtown Syracuse. The event is free and open to the community, and takes place during Syracuse University’s opening weekend, Syracuse Welcome 2014.
The evening will feature three components:
• A multi-dimensional temporary public art installation, “Urban Rest Stop,” will be on display from 6–10 p.m. The installation is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and commissioned by the Syracuse University School of Architecture through UPSTATE: Center for Design/Research /Real Estate in partnership with the Connective Corridor (see details below);
• A free Symphoria ensemble performance at 8 p.m. with a string quartet featuring leading professionals from the orchestra performing a program of both historic and contemporary music reflecting the unique characteristics of one of the Syracuse’s oldest parks. Forman Park honors one of Syracuse’s first civic leaders and also reflects its contemporary redesign as part of the Connective Corridor; and
• French American bistro-styled “small plates” tapas, wine and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase and served next to the illuminated fountain in Forman Park. The Food service, by Redfields at the Crowne Plaza Syracuse, will be available in the park from 6 – 8 p.m. prior to the concert, with beverage service until 9:30 p.m.
The event will integrate music, food and art to make it a unique evening experience in a public space that was redesigned for enhanced community use by the Syracuse University School of Architecture, working with OLIN — a globally renowned design firm — and Tillett Lighting, along with local engineering firm Barton & Loguidice. The park, and its architecturally unique lighting, was recently featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine. This event is an opportunity to wander under the stars surrounded by “firefly” lighting and enjoy a one-time multimedia experience set to music.
“Our office is thrilled to see the vision of the Connective Corridor, to enliven Syracuse’s public spaces with Syracuse University’s faculty, students, parents and local arts organizations coming to fruition in Forman Park,” says Marilyn Higgins, vice president of Syracuse University’s Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development. “We are fortunate to have the Director of the Connective Corridor, Linda Dickerson-Hartsock, a “super-connector” with tremendous experience in economic development, bringing this infrastructure to life for the benefit of the University and the community.”
“Symphoria is thrilled to be part of this celebration and help welcome students and their families to Syracuse University, says Symphoria Managing Director Catherine Underhill. “This is also an opportunity to introduce them to the treasures that are part of the Connective Corridor cultural district in the City of Syracuse.” To encourage students to enjoy Syracuse’s cultural assets, Symphoria is offering a discount program to allow any college student to attend any concert, at any seat (best available) for $5. There are more than 30 arts and cultural venues that are part of the Connective Corridor, all linked by free Connective Corridor bus service. Many have college student discount programs.
The event will also recognize Forman Park beautification efforts by the Police Retirees Association of Syracuse and Central New York which organizes monthly beautification days to help maintain the extensive park landscaping that is part of Onondaga County’s Save the Rain Program. The association, which works closely with the Connective Corridor, is also the steward of the Police Memorial in Forman Park honoring fallen officers.
About the “Urban Rest Stop” public art installation:
Across the nation, communities are debating how to maintain aging infrastructure while remediating the negative impacts of interstate highway construction and urban renewal. One such conversation is happening in Syracuse. where Interstate 81 destroyed the city’s 15th Ward, a first Jewish, then African American neighborhood. The highway cuts through the city, creating a 1.5 mile barrier separating its University Hill District from downtown.
UPSTATE, A Center for Design, Research and Real Estate at the Syracuse University School of Architecture was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Art Works Grant to create “Urban Rest Stop,” in partnership with the Connective Corridor, as a temporary public art installation.
The “Urban Rest Stop” multimedia, multi-dimensional exhibition is a one-night only show featuring artists and collaborators engaging the public through works that draw on history and community memory to stimulate and inform civic debate. The exhibition was designed by Afoam, an architecture group based in New York City. Special Resources and Key Elements include: the Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (M-LAB), an interactive mobile laboratory for collaboration and learning; and a Mobile Theater to bring arts out of the box and into the public realm.
As residents debate whether to replace or eliminate this section of I-81, the “Urban Rest Stop” installation will use art to engage diverse communities in exploring the history, impact and potential of the highway by re-imagining the rest stop—typically a utilitarian rural amenity—as an urban activator.
Several area artists are creating pieces for the event, designed to stimulate conversation. These artists include Marion Wilson from 601 Tully; Stephen Mahan from the Pal Project; Yutaka Sho from the Syracuse University School of Architecture; and Linda Littlejohn from Syracuse University’s South Side Initiative.
“Our goal was, in one event, to highlight the ways we could use design to highlight local artists and the history of downtown Syracuse,” says former UPSTATE director Marc Norman, who is about to start a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard this fall. “We hope it can be model for other cities rethinking their expressways.”
“Syracuse is currently torn over the future of I-81. We believe that art can help lead to a more nuanced conversation about the transportation and culture of Syracuse and bring diverse communities together to have that conversation,” notes Brian Luce, a Syracuse School of Architecture graduate student, Imagining America Engagement Fellow and SU Fisher Center Studio Coordinator, who managed the project for UPSTATE.