Atlantic City is a special place where great spectacles still happen. That conviction, shared by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the Atlantic City Alliance and Fung Collaboratives is at the heart of "Artlantic: wonder" - a high-profile, five-year, multi-phased public art series that will help to re-imagine Atlantic City.
The Atlantic City renaissance, envisioned in the master plan, involves new and innovative partnerships between local civic leaders and local artists and arts institutions such as Richard Stockton College and the Noyes Museum.
Artlantic: wonder is an ambitious project.
The leader behind theproject is curator Lance Fung, who has a reputation for ambitious, innovative approaches to public art. Fung is perhaps best known for the Snow Show, a series of exhibitions that teamed world-renowned artists with cutting-edge architects to design ephemeral, large-scale installations from ice and snow. In 2009, Fung organized Wonderland, a public exhibition in San Francisco's Tenderloin district that brought nationally and internationally known artists into a collaborative relationship with local artists, neighborhood organizations and community members and remade the economically challenged neighborhood as a playground for the imagination.
This week, we began this initiative on two separate sites on former vacant lots that were awaiting development. Adjacent to the world famous Atlantic City Boardwalk at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Pacific and Kentucky avenues, the first exhibition site is situated on seven acres covering an entire city block.
These spaces feature works by acclaimed artists Robert Barry, Kiki Smith, John Roloff, and Ilya and Emilia Kabakov in collaboration with New York landscape design firm Balmori Associates. Both Barry, of Teaneck, and Smith, of South Orange, have roots in the Garden State. The design consists of two open spaces within rolling earthen terraces. The design is intended to evoke the roller coasters of the iconic Steel Pier.
When a visitor enters the space encircled by the two giant earthworks, they will find a serene natural environment, sheltered from the noise of the city. The brilliantly colored and brightly illuminated text of Barry's piece, embedded in the landscape, will come alive at night. Also within the walls of the earthworks, a half-sunken pirate ship evokes the old sailing ships that line the ocean floor off the New Jersey's coast. The ship is designed by the Kabakovs, pioneer artists who have been credited as the founders of large-scale contemporary installation art.
Opposite the ship blooms a lush red garden surrounding "Her," a figure of a woman embracing a doe, designed by Smith, a renowned sculptor known for her various depictions of the female form.
The second exhibition site covers 8,500 square feet and features an elaborate space that uses LED lights and bold linear stripes converging into a spiral pattern. The pattern eventually leads the visitor into the center of the space, where an embedded cistern of trickling water appears to be alive and weeping. Named "Etude Atlantis," the installation echoes the landscape of Artlantic: wonder and is designed by Roloff, a pioneer of large-scale environmental installations that investigate geologic and natural phenomena. Roloff has used the idea of "finding Atlantis" to connect the Atlantic City location with the opposite side of the world - the sea floor off the southwestern coast of Australia.
Artlantic: wonder is made possible through support from the state of New Jersey, the city of Atlantic City and the owners of the open spaces, Ace Gaming LLC and California Avenue Ventures LLC. It is also made possible with support from our advisory boards, volunteers, residents and businesses.
We would like to thank everyone at The Press of Atlantic City who developed this incredible special supplement. From the beginning, The Press understood the impact this project promises to have on our community. We would like also to thank the advertisers who made this supplement possible.
Liza Cartmell is president of the Atlantic City Alliance. John Palmieri is executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.