As scheduled artists of Blink, Kolar Design team members Christian Reichle and Matt Grote (who is also known as local artist OGRE) had this to say about their own unique experiences on two separate projects, the Enchanted Forest Lounge and Stumpies, respectively:
- How did you become involved? What features were you responsible for?
CR: I got involved after Brave Berlin reached out to Kolar asking for concepts for one of the parking lots they would be projection mapping. I had submitted an independent artist proposal for an installation that unfortunately was not selected, so I jumped on the opportunity to get involved at work. We were charged with creating an engaging and immersive environment that would complement the projections on the Charlie Harper Our Homecoming mural.
MG: I have an artist practice outside of my role at Kolar. There was an open call for project submissions and I was eager to seize the opportunity. I was fortunate enough to be selected for my project and built a series of works called “Stumpies” to be installed in a few downtown locations.
- An event like this doesn’t just happen overnight. How many different people or multi-disciplinary groups did you directly interact with to see your portion of the event come to life?
CR: It was definitely a group effort! Our concept started in house with a team brainstorm I led at Kolar. Once the concept was selected, we reached out to several contacts to secure materials and hands to help make our vision a reality. The Cincinnati Parks Foundation donated the stumps and branches as well as volunteers for set up; The Motz Group donated their time to deliver and install the turf; and Sediment Design was our local fabricator who brought all the parts to life. Of course, none of it would have been possible without financial support from the Haile Foundation and the logistical event support the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce provided citywide.
MG: My project was very much an individual effort, but it forced me out of my home studio into a shared space. I moved into a space being built by an upstart design build group. Working in proximity to talented builders and designers had a very positive impact on me.
- What were some of the main goals or drivers in your design and execution? Do you feel that they were achieved?
CR: Our number one goal was to create a place of respite and relaxation. We knew the event would be spread all over downtown and the Over The Rhine neighborhood and our location fell right in the middle. We wanted to create an environment where people would want to stop and stay a while. The logs provided seating and the turf was a favorite with the kids who appreciated a soft surface to run and play on. Parents could relax and talk with a drink while the kids entertained themselves. The glow-in-the-dark logs were an added level of surprise that people of all ages seemed to enjoy drawing on and engaging with.
MG: My goal was to build a fantastical species of personified stumps. I wanted to make sure that these characters delighted anyone who came across them. At the same time, I needed them to be self-contained light boxes that were safe to be in the public. There’s always room for growth on process, but I felt very good about executing my goals.
- What was one thing you learned during the process that you could never have planned for?
CR: We needed more flashlights! I bought over 300 UV flashlights for festivalgoers to use to draw on the logs and most had been taken as souvenirs in the first two nights. I never would have guessed BLINK would draw a million people downtown. Had I known that, I would have bought a lot more! I did notice several families who came back a second night and brought their lights back with them, which was nice to see.
MG: It was important to me that these “Stumpies” were each unique. The structures were all built the same way (in three sizes), but the exteriors were uniquely painted. As a result, the time spent on finishing and painting varied dramatically.
- Compare the experience of the live event against some of your preconceived ideas.
CR: To be honest, I was a bit nervous leading up to the opening. The foot print of the festival was massive and it created a logistical challenge I did not envy. With all the moving partks, I was worried our city had perhaps bit off a bit more than we could chew. I could not have been more wrong! The event went off without a hitch and the public loved it! Everyone was in good spirits and excited for our city.
MG: I knew that the programming and the people involved were going to pull off a great event. What I didn’t expect was the city’s response. People came out in droves. I could not believe how many people showed up. Without the support from the city we would not still be talking about it.
- What was your favorite installation outside of your own work?
CR: I don’t know that I can choose just one! Being a big fan of street art, I think my favorite parts were all the murals that were painted for the festival around Findlay and down Pleasant Street. Now that the light installations have gone away, the murals act as an ongoing reminder of that weekend in October when Cincinnati shined.
MG: The pleasant street murals were my favorite. As a city that has dozens and dozens of excellent murals already, it was great to see us embrace a growing trend of the street art mural festival. It was well curated and very impactful when lit up at night. It continues to give to the city as one of my favorite artists, ROA, is out painting his own mural as I write this.