Park Featuring Echelman Sculpture Awarded for Aesthetic and Social Excellence

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Echelman sculpture brings character and luminescence to award-winning community park

The Rudy Bruner Award honors Phoenix Civic Space Park, home to Janet Echelman’s landmark kinetic sculpture Her Secret is Patience, with a medal for design that creates “lasting transformative impacts on their urban neighborhoods and communities”.

Established in 1986, the prestigious biannual Rudy Bruner Award medals and $90,000 prize money this year recognized five urban places that have answered social and environmental needs by innovative and creative means.

Once a stretch of downtown known for parking lots and a strip club, the park now serves as an urban oasis with Echelman’s colorful iconic artwork suspended overhead. The Bruner Foundation describes the artwork’s impact in its announcement: “Janet Echelman’s luminescent sculpture establishes a distinct civic identity”.

The 145-ft-tall billowing artwork is monumental yet soft, fixed in place but constantly in motion, making visible the choreography of desert winds. Commissioned by the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, the multi-layered form is created by a combination of hand-baiting and machine-loomed knotting, and is the result of a collaborative effort with an international team of award-winning aeronautical and mechanical engineers, architects, lighting designers, landscape architects, and fabricators.

Stretching across two city blocks at the intersection between the new ASU campus, the YMCA, a low-income senior housing development, and the Central Transit Station, Civic Space Park has united its diverse neighbors with its harmonization of functionality, nature and art. According to Brandy H. M. Brooks, director of the award program, each winning project “reflects participation across a wide spectrum of community interests that came together to create beautiful, resourceful and creative urban solutions that serve the future of their neighborhoods and cities.”

As a member of the park’s creative team, Ms. Echelman designed the sculpture to be a beacon for Phoenix’s newly revitalized downtown, visible from many directions. Inspired by Arizona’s monsoon cloud formations and its native saguaro cactus flowers, the sculpture suspends 165-feet above the park, casting delicate shadow drawings onto the ground. Its title, Her Secret is Patience, comes from a quote by poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.”

In addition to Civic Space Park, 2011 Silver Medals were awarded to Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, the Gary Comer Youth Center in Chicago, and Santa Fe Railyard Redevelopment in New Mexico. The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center in Dallas received the Gold Medal. Case studies of the five 2011 Rudy Bruner Award Winners will be published this fall.

Video of Her Secret is Patience:

Echelman received a 2011-12 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation to create self-initiated urban sculpture.
Echelman's newest sculpture Every Beating Second, commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission, just premiered at San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 2, home of Virgin America and American Airlines. The work creates a “Zone of Recomposure” for passengers after passing through security.
The redesign of Philadelphia City Hall's Dilworth Plaza, and its proposal for an ambitious new sculpture from Janet Echelman, has been given the full support of the Philadelphia Art Commission.
Echelman recently appeared at TED2011 to give a talk on reshaping cities with monumental urban sculptures.

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