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Office of Economic Development
Office of Economic Development

Exciting New Public Art for Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza

New plaza to showcase temporary public art, performances and sound art installations.

Berkeley, California (Monday, October 11, 2018) - With the completion of the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, the City of Berkeley will have an innovative new public art space in its downtown that will be programmed with a variety of engaging and dynamic art installations and cultural presentations, including an ongoing series of sound art compositions and temporary sculptural installations, as well as live music and dance performances.

Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza
The renovated Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza has a dramatic new look designed to improve the public space surrounding the station and to provide flexible use space where temporary sculptures and performances will be presented throughout the year. In addition to the many plaza improvements, the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission funded the installation of a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system. This system, installed on eight centrally located poles, will be used for the presentation of a series of sound art pieces commissioned by the Civic Arts Commission. This equipment infrastructure will provide a unique public venue to experience a range sound-based art forms.

Sound Art Installations
The first sound art installation to be presented on the plaza is an original site-specific composition by local composer and electronic musician, Chris Brown, called Flow in Place. It will premiere with the opening of the new plaza on October 18, 2018 and will run for two months. Flow in Place is comprised of field recordings of musical performances and natural and urban environments from around the world. These recordings are shuffled together into sequences that accompany the movement of people heading from the BART station entrance through the plaza, suggesting conversations and connections between distant places and global environments. (More information on Brown and these recordings is available at: http://cbmuse.com/talkingdrum)

Chris Brown 
   Composer Chris Brown (Photo by Lenny Gonzales)

Brown's installation is the first in a series of ten sound art installations at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, each running for approximately two months. The series includes the following artist composers, listed in the order of series presentation (which is subject to change): Gregory Robinson; Spiritual Technologies; Ed Campion; Maggi Payne; Robert Crouch & Yann Novak; Jim McKee; Thea Farhadian & Dean Santomieri; Danny Clay; and Margaret Noble. The slate of composers included in the series represents a mix of both preeminent sound artists as well as exciting newcomers to the scene.

"Berkeley and the East Bay are home to a thriving electronic arts scene and the new Downtown Berkeley BART plaza has been built with a sound system infrastructure to give the City of Berkeley a unique opportunity to present this exciting art form. This one-of-a-kind multi-channel audio environment will engage the public in inspiring and provocative ways," said Berkeley Civic Arts Commission Chair Kim Anno.

Temporary Sculpture Display
In addition to the sound installations, a large-scale sculpture called Home by Berkeley-based artist Michael Christian will be on display for one year. Home resembles an oversized desktop globe. It is made of multiple layers of steel with cutout imagery of street maps from around the world. At night, light from within the piece casts shadows of these maps on the surrounding plaza. At any time of day, the artwork evokes the interconnectedness of all people and places around the world. Home was originally created for Burning Man, but has gone on to have a life beyond the desert art festival. For more information on Michael Christian's work: http://michaelchristian.com/

Home Sculpture 
   Photo of Michael Christian's sculpture, Home, as installed at Burning Man, 2010 (Photo by 3hammon Photography)

Live Performances
The plaza will also showcase music performances, as well as other community and cultural presentations. Through a collaboration with the Downtown Business Association and with support from the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission, this cultural activation program (called "Berkeley LIVE!") will be produced with the guiding principles of "equity, quality, community and frequency" and will be managed initially by Berkeley-based Taylor Street Productions. Berkeley Live! will present approximately a dozen performances per month at various times of day. Most of the performances will take place on a temporary stage located at the southern end of the plaza and will make use of the new sound system. The programing of the plaza will create a vibrant public space that is welcoming and engaging for all Berkeley residents and visitors. Berkeley LIVE! will be a place to showcase the diverse creative talents and artistic soul that makes Berkeley so extraordinary.

"I'm thrilled that the new BART Plaza will offer so many opportunities for residents to experience a wide range of art and enjoy free performances in our downtown," said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín. "This is a truly one-of-a-kind venue with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system that I hope will become a central gathering place for the community to interact with art and one another."

"Berkeley LIVE!" will kick off with the BART Plaza opening celebrations scheduled for October 18 - 21, 2018. More information on the opening celebration and event schedule can be found here: http://ontheplaza.downtownberkeley.com/events/opening-celebration-ribbon-cutting

 Artists who are interested in performing as part of the Berkeley LIVE! Program are invited to submit an application here (Click on "Perform on the Plaza" link): http://ontheplaza.downtownberkeley.com/

For media requests, please contact:

Jennifer Lovvorn, Chief Cultural Affairs Officer, Civic Art Program, City of Berkeley
JLovvorn@CityofBerkeley.info and (510) 981-7533

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