Artlantic is bringing a new view on art to the city, and someone who may just completely change your view about it is John Roloff.
In the Artlantic project, there are two separate sites getting a much-needed transformation. Roloff will be the lone artist at the The Ritz site, which can be found at California Avenue and the Boardwalk.
The Pinnacle site has a combination of the work of three artists, offering plenty for the viewer to take in. Being the lone man on the Ritz site puts some extra pressure on Roloff, but you wouldn't know that when looking at his mystifying plan for the space, which will add a unique artistic element to the Boardwalk.
The exhibit also will add an area for the public to congregate, with trees and benches on either side of his work, and with the entire piece of art acting as a stage.
"It's about bringing different kinds of people together, and the Boardwalk is a perfect place that has a mix of everything on that walking boulevard," said Lance Fung, curator of Artlantic. He said Roloff "was the one that recognized the value of having the Boardwalk feel wider through his space. He had the wise vision to have a wall be built perpendicular to the groundscaping so he can create his walkable mural."
Roloff's work has been presented at museums across the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, the Venice Architectural and Art Biennales and his recent project, the "Snow Show," in Finland, which included ice carvings in the middle of a frozen sea.
Roloff is the chair of the sculpture and ceramics department at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Besides bringing more art to the city, the big purpose of Artlantic is to create public meeting spaces where people will want to relax, spend time and enjoy the views of Atlantic City. Free WiFi acccess will entice people to spend the day among the art pieces. Roloff has taken that idea and made his space even more than a meeting space.
"What I am trying to create are these public meeting spaces so people and locals really want to go and hang out there," said Fung. "The thing that was fantastic is John Raloff sort of heard that message and essentially is treating his mural as a giant stage. He wants people to go up there and hang out and perform and sing on it."
His project in Atlantic City was origianlly slated to be completed July 4, but the project was pushed back to open at the same time as the works at the Pinnacle site. However, the wait for the finished product will be well worth it.
The piece is complicated and has multiple elements that combine to create one large-scale masterpiece.
The first aspect of Roloff's work comes from World War I. He used a dazzlepainting technique, similar to black and white zebra stripes or the dazzle camoflouge used on ships in World War I, to create an illusionistic feel in the space, which also makes for a dazzling performance space.
"What has sort of occurred in a way is that the entire environment has become a stage," Roloff said. "You're sort of entering a walk-on mural, where the ground in front of you is part of the mural as well as the wall behind you. You're walking into a painting."
The central object of the piece is the cistern, which uses an angled mirror to create an optical illusion. Roloff wanted the mirrors in the vortex-like hole to reflect the sky, and in turn make it seem as though you're not just looking at a mirrored image of a sky, but instead looking straight through the Earth to the sky above the southwest Indian Ocean, which is where you'd come out if you went straight through the Earth from Atlantic City.
"Near that place (in the Indian Ocean), there's an underwater oceanic plateau that people in Australia or the southern hemisphere think of as the southern Atlantis, in the sense that it's this lost continent," Roloff said, which helped give the project its name, "Etude Atlantis."
Roloff's career of visual and environmental art spans decades.
Roloff studied geology and art at the University of California at Davis. That pairing allowed Roloff to create distinctive works that channel relationships between material, concept and performance in geology, ecology, architecture, ceramics, industry and mining, metabolic systems and history.
The artist is best known for his works with outdoor kiln and furnaces from the late 1970s to early 1990s. He has also done large-scale environment pieces, as well as large pieces for galleries. His scientific background enables him to use natural geologic features in his art.
Born: Oakland, Calif. 1947. He is 65. He currently lives in Oakland
Known for: Visual and environmental art, primarily recognized for outdoor kiln and furnace projects and other large-scale installations.
Artlantic task: John Roloff's walkable mural, which includes a wall perpendicular to the greenscaping, will be a spot for relaxing, meeting or performing. Roloff said, 'Atlantic City for an environmental artist is a very unique and special site. Its history, social/economic and geographic dynamics are especially engaging. This project has provided me with an opportunity to discover an inner Atlantis and put together an unexpected mixture of place, theater, technology and commerce. The context of an amazing group of artists, the complex terrain and associations of Atlantic City, and working with Fung Collaboratives again is compelling and extraordinary in my experience.'