After city regulations halted the Art Crosswalks project in conjunction with Downtown Memphis Commission, local artists at MCA with volunteer community members executed their designs in partnership with Overton Park.
This project crosses the boundaries between artistic interventions, broadly defined as public art that encourages moments of pause, contemplation, even participation and play and civic-minded improvements or tactical urbanism, broadly defined as functional urban developments with intent to improve communities.
The art crosswalks, not only add moments of pause but also improve the community’s safety by supporting pedestrians and foot traffic and discouraging drivers from speeding around intersections and blind corners in the park.
Two locations were facilitated, one at the corner of Veterans Plaza Drive and one at the intersection of the Zoo entrance and Brooks Museum. Local artists included Ashley Segarra and Dezmond Gipson. Photography by Natalie Schuh.
Today Ray and I visited Memfix at Crosstown by the old Sears factory building. Memfix is a beautification project in Memphis just north of Poplar on Cleveland Street. What can we learn from the success of the Memfix campaign?
MemFIX Cleveland Street is a short-term community driven effort to inject vitality into the Crosstown area by activating the street and showing what is possible in the neighborhood. Working with local businesses, residents, and community stakeholders the project will re-think the street, activate vacant shopfronts, and change the character of the two block area along Cleveland from Overton Park to Galloway for one weekend.
Memfix, cleverly headlined with “here comes the neighborhood” included basic cleaning efforts to restore abandoned lots and buildings, as well as adding bike lanes.
Our advertising design class is working on a similar project in South Memphis that will try to engage community members and create stewardship of their neighborhood. Below are some photos from the event that perhaps can inspire ideas for our campaign.
It’s been a long time since I’ve moved to a new city and I forgot how difficult it can be to figure your way around. When I moved to Atlanta in 1999, I was young and unconcerned about what was going on around me. I simply grew up. I unknowingly learned a lot about myself, my love for design and my love for the city. This all merged into a harmonious love affair between urbanization + design / art + Atlanta. By the end of a decade… and incidentally my 20’s, I finally had a good sense of who I was and what I was doing on this earth.
Atlanta and I were best buds. We were inseparable. We were in love.
But the time came when I had to leave Atlanta for another city. It was hard.
Things were different in Memphis. “So far so good,” I would tell folks from home. Moving to a new city is like the starting a relationship. Everything is new and exciting, nothing is familiar, and everything you do, hear, and touch has its own new uniqueness. It’s charming and fresh.
“So far so good,” I’d say.
I think that I’d say that because to be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about Memphis. It’s just like when you start dating someone new. You think, he’s pretty cool. I’ll see him again. But truthfully, you don’t have the faintest idea about whether he likes sushi or what his favorite color is… never mind the really deep stuff like what are his goals in life.
So that is where I am in my new relationship with Memphis. The tricky thing is, I’ve been trying to jump into the married life with Memphis before working through the honeymoon phase.
What I forgot to think about regarding my new move to Memphis vs. my first big move to Atlanta was how challenging it can be to move to a new city as an older adult with a more defined identity. No longer did I feel that I could take years and years to grow with a city and learn its identity. Immediately, I felt like I had to know everything about Memphis, just like I had with Atlanta. I so desperately wanted to fill that void.
After I settled into my new job, after about three weeks of living here, I started researching everything and anything about Memphis + design. As you might have suspected, this is not the most narrowed down search and so you can imagine the amount of information that was coming up. The list of events, places and organizations was endless. It was and still is a bit over-whelming.
So, Why am I telling you all this? To finally get to the point of this story… I had a nice breakthrough last night. I accepted an invitation to a great event hosted by Crosstown Arts and Design Alliance called Pecha Kucha. I’m still not sure how to pronounce it… anyways, the event took place in a beautiful empty building called Sears Crosstown Building. It is located in the midtown area of Memphis.
I already knew I was going to like whatever was going on here. If someone planned to throw an event in a beautiful, forgotten building in an urban environment, it was an event I wanted to be at.
Pecha Kucha was composed of 8 presentations. Some talked about large projects going on in Memphis while some talked about individual’s work. I learned about an organization called Tactical Urbanism, which FYI, is like exactly what I was doing in Atlanta before I moved away. Holy awesomeness! I learned about the Urban Art Commission and some of things they were hoping to contribute to Memphis. I mostly just met a bunch of people who are totally into similar things that I am. Not bad for a Thursday night.
Who knows what the future holds for Memphis and I… but, at least for now, I think I’d like to see him again.