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Friday, March 7, 2014

Art on BART Replaces Ads With Art

Posted By on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge WANDERART
  • WanderArt

In our digital age, people sometimes lose sight of the beauty surrounding them and rarely take time to discover uncharted territories. WanderArt is a new start up, based in San Francisco, that attempts to bridge the gap between technology and discovery. The start up aims to expose public art that often goes overlooked, making it accessible to everyone with a phone or computer. An accompanying app launched last month hosts a database of public art that the creator Lindsey Davis and developer Jack Humbert, have identified during walks throughout San Francisco.

The app also allows users to add public art that they've discovered and to add "reflections," about a certain art piece by checking in at the location of the work. Davis hopes that the app will reveal sculptures, murals and other street art excluding advertisements or graffiti. She says she thinks that WanderArt will connect users who have witnessed the same piece and will generate a conversation about art. In tech savy San Francisco, she noticed that there was not a digital community for art outside.

"It's not that I don't think that there's enough art," says Davis, "but people need to be able to find what's already there." WanderArt hopes to fill the digital void of a street art database and to inspire people to share and discover art together.

Along with the app, the start up also includes pop up galleries that brings art to the public. Davis says that she was attracted to the idea of "putting art in a place where you wouldn't expect it." She was thinking about this when she was commuting on the BART, and recognized the uniqueness of sharing the same space with strangers. She thought, "what if there was something that they could all share and think about?"

In February, WanderArt launched a KickStarter campaign to raise money to rent six BART cars and the 36 ad spaces in them. They put out an open call for artwork on the California Council of the Arts website, searching for work that followed the theme of "escape." They chose just six art works from Bay Area artists out of the over 80 submissions. The artists agreed to donate their artwork for the exposure and because they believed in the cause of bringing accessible art to the masses.

The Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded on February 26, just hours before the deadline of the fundraiser. Titan, BART's ad agency, will be installing the artwork that will be printed on ad copy while the trains are out of service. Although an exact date hasn't been established, the art will replace ads and public service announcements in March and will remain on the cars for one month. The artwork will be referred to as "Art not Ads" on the trains to avoid any legal connection with BART, although the campaign is still called Art on BART.

Brendan Getz, a Bay Area artist whose artwork will be featured on the trains, says that he likes the idea of creating an unexpected "place for people to interact with the work." Getz says that his art, which is "heavily conceptual", fits into Art on BART's vision of replacing advertisements. It's an unusual place to see artwork, which he agrees is an interesting concept.

"A person's sense of place is very important to how they perceive that artwork," says Getz. He hopes that the art will transform the commuter's sense of space.

Jeffrey Thompson, another artist whose work was chosen as one of the six artworks to be displayed in the cars, thinks that the replacement of ads will suggest, "that the space has a wider use." He says that with the bombardment of information that an average BART user experiences through advertisements and their mobile devices, they lose contact with their surroundings. "We're losing public space in the digital age and this is a way to reacquire that space," says Thompson. He thinks that the Art on Bart campaign will "shift the focus" of commuters to change the experience that they have on BART. "Art adds value to your life," Thompson says.

The original artworks (besides one that was sold during the fundraiser) will also be for sale at an Art on BART launch party that will be taking place on Friday, March 7 at Public Works (161 Erie) from 5-9 p.m. The event will include live music, painting and a talk with Bay Area artists.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Melissa Hellmann

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