The High Life

Downtown's Waller Creek transforms for monumental international art project

Waller Creek transforms for monumental new international art project

Waller Creek Plans Waterloo Park Play Lawn
The project will take over Symphony Square in spring 2019. Courtesy of Waller Creek Conservancy
Waller Creek Plans Arc Bridge
"New Monuments ..." will tour Austin, Houston, Toronto, Chicago, and New York. Courtesy of Waller Creek Conservancy
Waller Creek Moody Square
Twenty five artists, including five from Central Texas, will be on display. Courtesy of Waller Creek Conservancy
Waller Creek Plans Waterloo Park Play Lawn
Waller Creek Plans Arc Bridge
Waller Creek Moody Square

A monumental new public art project will take up residence in Waller Creek next spring. "New Monuments for New Cities," a joint art initiative from the High Line Network, runs through Austin from March to May 2019. 

The tour highlights the work of five artists from each city — 25 in total — who submitted proposals for new monuments in their respective cities. Here in Central Texas, the artists representing Austin are: Nicole Awai, Daniela Cavazos Madrigal, Teruko Nimura (with Rachel Alex Crist), Denise Prince, and Vincent Valdez.

While "New Monuments ..." is certainly a celebration of local art and culture, organizers say it's also a meditation on a modern era in which monuments are being increasingly questioned and, in some cases, abandoned. 

“As memorials to the deeply imbalanced history of the Western world are being torn down, the current moment demands critical thought and creativity about the monuments that adorn our cities," says Cecilia Alemani, the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. director and chief curator of High Line Art, in a release.

Displayed in the form of posters, "New Monuments ..." can be seen in Symphony Square, located on Red River Street between 11th and 12th streets, a space that has become the de facto headquarters of Waller Creek's ambitious restoration project. Along with the artwork, the Waller Creek Conservancy is planning a series of public events, including an opening ceremony and artists' panel, in honor of the tour. 

“We are thrilled to participate in this international effort because of the compelling, timely subject matter addressed and because it is a fantastic way to support local artists,” says Peter Mullan, Waller Creek Conservancy CEO, in a release. “At Waller Creek, we are not only constructing physical spaces, we are also building community — a community that supports arts and culture and explores new ways of telling the history of this place.”

It's worth noting that before taking the Waller Creek Conservancy gig, Mullan served as the executive VP of Friends of the High Line, the nonprofit that oversees New York City's High Line, and namesake for this art tour.

In addition to Austin, other participants in the international inaugural event include Houston's Buffalo Bayou, Chicago's The 606, and Toronto's The Bentway. The tour will conclude in New York with an exhibition on the High Line in fall 2019.