Monday, February 17, 2014

Shreveport Common's subtle new work: environmental art by sculptor Julie Glass on Texas Ave

Escutcheons of concrete seem to float in the air on an empty lot aside the 800 block of Texas Ave. Sculptor Julie Glass recently installed the surreal series, which she calls "Uplifting."

In what will one day be a part of Shreveport Common called Caddo Park, Ms Glass leveraged 3-inch thick plates of concrete from the pavement . As a welder she was able to mount them on top of rebar stalks and weld steel fingers to the mount so as to firmly hold the macadam.

"I have been biking in Broadmoor and walking around downtown Shreveport the last several months as a way to balance activity with my sedentary work life (she is an attorney). I began noticing and eventually became obsessed with the beauty and design of the myriad cracks and imperfections in concrete streets and sidewalks. I started working on a series of sculptures and mixed media pieces based on these exciting irregularities," writes Glass.

"Thinking about a public art installation, I walked around the empty lots of Shreveport Common in the triangle between Cotton, Crockett and Texas Streets. The concrete slabs have beautiful designs in them. I decided to choose some of the designs found on these concrete slabs and literally lift them up so they can be seen by passers-by. This serves two purposes: a) it adds color and visual interest to a vacant, dilapidated area, and b) it helps people to realize there is beauty and potential in the imperfections of the area.

While perusing the vacant lots in Shreveport Common, I also noticed an old rusty metal rope barrier, held in place on concrete-filled metal posts, enclosing part of the space. I wanted to free it from its concrete captivity and help it soar into the air to express the idea of breaking free from its old decrepit state. So I welded the twisted wires to the tops of the stanchions. This series I call 'Breaking free.' "

The work by Glass is high-concept and poetic but visually low-key. It fulfills what Texas Ave resident David Nelson hopes for in the Shreveport Common art: "that installations are done considering context, meaning, scale and audience." Says artist Kathryn Usher, who has installed a series of chrome and red disks on a fence not far from the Glass work, says, "Julie Glass's work is an effective use of materials sourced from the immediate area." She adds, "The three hefty sentinels lean as thought they were attempting to collect rays of new growth on Texas Ave."

Photos by Talbot Hopkins Trudeau.

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