CHICAGO, IL ART on THE MART, an innovative digital art project that transforms a Chicago architectural landmark into a larger-than-life canvas, will introduce two new commissions this summer. Building Light, a new projection by Gensler, the largest global design and architecture firm, will kick off the summer season on June 8, followed by a projection featuring new choreography from the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, an organization celebrating and archiving Black Dance, on July 6. Timed to Chicago Pride Fest (June 17 to 18) and the Chicago Pride Parade (June 25), ART on THE MART's seasonal Pride celebration will return from June 1 to 28, followed by its annual Independence Day projection, which illuminates the building in red, white, and blue, from June 29 to July 5. Projections during the summer season will be on view nightly at 9-10 p.m. CT.
"We're thrilled to partner with Gensler, a world-class design and architecture firm, on a new projection and usher in this bold new chapter for THE MART. It's also an honor, alongside support from the Walder Foundation, to provide a stage for the remarkable dance companies that constitute the Black Dance Legacy Project. At once celebrating the power of design, dance and their impact on our community, we continue our legacy of commissioning works that uplift the creatives shaping our city," said Cynthia Noble, executive director of ART on THE MART.
Designed by Anna Nelson and Franklin Guttman of Gensler's Chicago brand studio, Building Light, on view from June 8 to September 13, explores themes of discovery, urbanism, and change through four abstracted and time-lapsed vignettes. Aimed to evoke optimism and wonder, Building Light speaks to what design can do for our communities and its ability to find creative solutions to society's biggest challenges. An original soundscape from Gilded Audio, composed by Andy Chugg and Nick Dooley, will accompany the piece. Gensler is also behind the next phase of THE MART's evolution, reimagining key spaces in one of Chicago's most iconic architectural buildings. Gensler's transformation of the building will create a new experience for all who enter, and the projection, planned to align with NeoCon 2023 (June 12 to 14), reinforces THE MART's role as a true global destination for design.
"Design touches many aspects of the human experience, especially in urban environments," said Anna Nelson, Senior Brand Designer at Gensler and Building Light organizer. "Our team wanted to celebrate the power of design by depicting how individual discovery can morph into exponential impact. We're speaking to the city as a future-thinking center of design with an aim to inspire Chicagoans and NeoCon attendees alike."
Continuing a legacy of spotlighting work by leading Chicago-based artists and collectives, ART on THE MART will also present a newly commissioned work by the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project as part of its summer season from July 6 to September 13. The Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, developed through a partnership between the Logan Center for the Arts and the Joyce Foundation's Culture Program, is a multi-year project that seeks to celebrate and strengthen the impact of Black dance in Chicago and beyond. Created by Princess Mhoon, Director of the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, new media artist Liviu Pasare, and artists from 10 diverse dance companies of the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, the projection for ART on THE MART, titled The Big Bang: Movement Theory + the Black Dancing Body, will feature original choreography from its latest cohort. Told in three acts, the work takes audiences on a journey through the Black experience in America by way of dance. Juxtaposing forms ranging from ballet, modern, tap, traditional African dance, Chicago-born footwork, and more, the commission will deliver an incomparable demonstration of the depth and breadth of Chicago's Black dance community.
The dance companies featured in The Big Bang: Movement Theory + the Black Dancing Body include: The Chicago Multicultural Dance Center & Hiplet Ballerinas; Deeply Rooted Dance Theater; The Era Footwork Collective; Forward Momentum Chicago; Joel Hall Dancers & Center; M.A.D.D. Rhythms; Move Me Soul; Muntu Dance Theatre; NAJWA Dance Corps; and Praize Productions. Chicago-based DJ Duane Powell will also collaborate on a new soundtrack for the projection inspired by House music. The work is made possible, in part, by a grant awarded to the ART on THE MART Foundation funded by the Walder Foundation for advancing the performing arts in Chicago.
"We want to thank ART on THE MART for their visionary work sharing experiences with the public that blend art and new media in refreshing ways. We relish the opportunity to explore how the dancing body, technology, and history can collide to create a big bang of ideas and inspiration in the heart of Chicago," says Princess Mhoon, Director of the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project. Bill Michel, Executive Director of the Logan Center that houses the project, adds: "We are excited to celebrate the practice of these ten phenomenal companies who are integral to the arts landscape in Chicago and whose incredible work is sure to light up ART on THE MART and all who experience it."
ART on THE MART is free and can best be experienced from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street, where accompanying audio can also be heard. ART on THE MART is presented in collaboration with the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).
For more information on the 2023 season, please visit artonthemart.com or follow #ARTonTHEMART.
About ART on THE MART
ART on THE MART, presented in partnership with Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), is an innovative digital art project that transforms a Chicago architectural landmark into a larger-than-life canvas, spanning over 2.5 acres of THE MART along the city's Riverwalk. Founded in 2018, ART on THE MART is a platform for cutting-edge moving image work by renowned local, national and international interdisciplinary artists. Under the direction of Cynthia Noble, the program has commissioned work by celebrated names like Nick Cave, Barbara Kruger and Charles Atlas, along with projections by Chicago-based artists and local organizations that elevate voices and artists from underrepresented communities.
The program is a result of a 30-year commitment by THE MART owner Vornado Realty Trust, in close collaboration with the City of Chicago, with a shared goal to provide public access to innovative contemporary digital art for thousands of visitors traversing the Chicago Riverwalk each day. The project marks the first time a projection of its size and scope is completely dedicated to digital art with no branding, sponsorship credits or messaging. The permanent projection system illuminates THE MART with 34 state-of-the-art projectors totaling almost one million lumens. The program content rotates seasonally and is selected with the assistance and expertise of the Curatorial Advisory Board, along with the support of a guest digital art curator initiative that was founded in 2023.
For more information, visit artonthemart.com or follow us on social media:
About THE MART
THE MART (formerly The Merchandise Mart), located in the center of the sought-after River North submarket, is interwoven into the fabric of Chicago as an innovator in business, technology, culture, art, media and more. As the largest privately owned commercial building in the United States, it is also one of the world's leading commercial buildings, wholesale design centers and the preeminent international business location in Chicago. Encompassing 4.2 million gross square feet, THE MART spans two city blocks, rises 25 stories and is visited by an average of 30,000 people each business day and nearly 10 million people annually. Offering continuous innovation and creativity from leading manufacturers and design forward showrooms, THE MART serves as the home to Chicago's most creative and technologically innovative companies including Motorola Mobility, 1871, Yelp, PayPal and MATTER, as well as Fortune 500 companies ConAgra Brands, Allstate, Medline Industries, Beam Suntory and Grainger. For more information, visit themart.com .
About the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)
The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) supports artists and cultural organizations, invests in the creative economy and expands access and participation in the arts throughout Chicago's 77 neighborhoods. As a collaborative cultural presenter, arts funder and advocate for creative workers, our programs and events serve Chicagoans and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, downtown and in diverse communities across our city to strengthen and celebrate Chicago. DCASE produces some of the city's most iconic festivals, markets, events and exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, and in communities across the city serving a local and global audience of 25 million people. The Department offers cultural grants and resources, manages public art, supports TV and film production and other creative industries, and permits special events throughout Chicago. For further details, visit Chicago.gov/DCASE and stay connected via newsletters and social media.
Gensler is a global architecture, design, and planning firm with 53 locations and more than 7,000 professionals networked across the Americas, Europe, Greater China, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East. Founded in 1965, the firm works globally across more than 29 practice areas spanning the work, lifestyle, community, and health sectors. Gensler is guided by its mission to create a better world through the power of design, and the source of its strength is its people. By leveraging a diversity of ideas, research and innovation, shared values, and its One-Firm Firm culture, Gensler is working seamlessly as a borderless firm in 140 countries and making the greatest impact on communities to tackle the world's challenges. Visit gensler.com to learn more and connect with the Chicago team on Instagram and Twitter.
About Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, a project of The University of Chicago's Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
Chicago has long been a significant hub of African American arts and culture. Chicago's Black community has played a defining role in dance history, from imbuing traditional forms with new vibrancy to establishing entirely new forms of urban dance. While Chicago's Black dance companies are as diverse as the city itself from dancers to dance styles they are all united by the African American heritage at the bedrock of their work. The Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, housed at the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts, is a multi-year project that aims to strengthen the impact and reach of Black dance for generations to come. Learn more at chicagoblackdancelegacy.org, and stay connected via Facebook and Instagram.
Lead funding for the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project is provided by the Joyce Foundation and the Mellon Foundation with additional support from Walder Foundation, University of Chicago Women's Board, and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.