Called "Float", the mural by artist Noah MacMillan took several nights to install. It's the largest printed artwork in downtown Chicago, and part of the effort of the Chicago Loop Alliance to use art, design and technology in public space. It is the artist's first major art commission.
The Chicago Loop Alliance is the group that's also behind The Gateway, an experiment with open space that put tables, flowerboxes and trees on a State Street median south of Wacker Drive.
(PRESS RELEASE) Chicago Loop Alliance to unveil Float mural on historic Century Building July 16
Artwork at 202 S. State Street a continuation of CLA's ongoing activation of public space downtown
CHICAGO (July 9, 2013)-Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) will unveil Float, a 500-square-foot mural on the façade of 202 S. State Street (the Century Building), on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. St. Louis-based illustrator and designer Noah MacMillan was commissioned by CLA to create the artwork, which envelopes the corner of the building at State and Adams Streets with an illustration of a surreal parade winding through downtown Chicago, in which colorful sea-creature floats appear to swim through the streets. Float is presented in collaboration with the U.S. General Services Administration, which owns the building, and is a continuation of CLA's ongoing work to activate public space downtown.
"Enlivening and enriching the Loop experience for residents and visitors has always been a priority for Chicago Loop Alliance, and it's a key factor in driving economic development in the Loop," said CLA Executive Director Michael Edwards. "As we conclude our first strategic planning process this summer, we're exploring how artworks like Float can further this goal."
Chicago Loop Alliance's past activations of public space in the Loop include The Gateway, a recently-unveiled placemaking experiment on the State Street median south of Wacker Drive, and Pop-Up Art Loop, a year-round program that draws attention to available retail storefronts through vibrant temporary art galleries open to the public.
Float artist Noah MacMillan, who has prior experience creating works for civic entities, mixes often surreal concepts with a visually bold style influenced by printmaking, street art and vintage illustration. Merging ink drawing and printing techniques with digital tools, his work has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek and the Washington Post, as well as on book covers, posters, T-shirts and skateboard decks.
"Noah was charged with the task of coming up with a work that addresses the relationship between people and the government," said CLA Program Manager and Curator Tristan Hummel. "His idea is brilliant. A parade is a city alive, intrinsically tied to order and governance yet strangely unfettered by that container. This relationship between the city and creativity posed the perfect symbol for our project with GSA."
The Century Building at 202 S. State Street was designed by the noted Chicago Architectural firm of Holabird and Roche. It is historically unique for two important reasons. The distinct vertical expression of the exterior elevations of this building and others by the firm, notably the North American Building, portends the transition from the Chicago School buildings of the late 19th Century to the Art Deco of the 1920s. Additionally, the overall design of the facade ornament appears to be based on a style, not common in Chicago, known as Manueline and Neo-manueline, which features a proliferation of complex ornament around building openings. The buildings unique appearance contributes to the diversity of the architectural environment within the Chicago Loop.
Chicago Loop Alliance is a member-based business organization that represents Chicago's most dynamic mixed-use district-the Loop-and advocates for the rapidly growing central business area. CLA is focused on promoting and uniting Loop businesses and organizations to support one another in creating a vibrant, flourishing Loop where people live, work and play. For more information, please visit www.chicagoloopalliance.com.
The Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that develops, supports and promotes artistic, cultural and public events that benefit businesses, individuals and stakeholders within in the service area of Chicago Loop Alliance.