Sculpture - Installation - Public Art
Coming Soon in the Fall of 2008….. Public Art Project Seven Sentinels
Kansas City Missouri Impound Tow lot facility I-435 and Front Street
A series of seven elevated and altered parking control arm units that are synchronized to raise consecutively in a wave like pattern. A road-mounted sensor triggers the arms as a car drives toward the entrance/exit area. Metaphorically the pieces’ reflects on the stages concerning a rite of passage. This interactive relationship salutes the driver returning back to society with their reclaimed car, auction participants, the tow truck drivers, tow lot employees and the police officers that work their daily. This work also relates to the honor guard often provide for head of state visits.
KC artist creates sculpture for Vehicle Impound Facility
Kansas City artist Matt Dehaemers is a wanted man.
He has been scoring commissions for temporary and permanent public sculptures across the country and shows no sign of slowing down.
A public art panel in December 2006 selected Dehaemers to design an artwork relevant to the new Vehicle Impound Facility on Front Street. The artist came up with the austerely titled “Seven Sentinels” for the $115,000 commission, funded by Kansas City’s 1 percent for art program and scheduled to be unveiled this summer.
The kinetic sculpture will consist of seven elevated, modified parking control arms that will rise in a wave pattern as cars exiting the lot activate a sensor in the road.
For people reclaiming their cars, Dehaemers sees the artwork as a visual metaphor for a rite of passage. To those working at the facility, it might be a salute to a job well done.
Dehaemers thinks he is the right artist for the project because he grew up around his dad’s auto salvage business and understands the vibe of tow lots.
“I am looking to turn a fairly negative experience into a somewhat positive ending for those who have come to fill out paperwork” and “pay a big fee,” he said.
When Dehaemers doesn’t have a personal attachment to a site for which he’s making art, he delves into research. That was the case with “The Nereid Beckon,” on view until next spring as a part of the Evanston Art Center’s “A Sculpture on the Grounds” in the Chicago suburb.
The artist said he was interested in the part of Evanston’s history that dealt with the many shipwrecks that eventually led to the building of the Grosse Point Lighthouse.
Dehaemers took the idea of the lighthouse and married it with the craft of constructing miniature ships inside bottles. The result was a fleet of five colossal, LED-lit structures in the shape of wine bottles, each made of hundreds of small plastic bottles.
While expressing maritime interests, they also evoke lanterns at the top of lighthouse towers. The title refers to the sea nymphs of Greek mythology who were said to be helpful to sailors, much like beams of light from shore.
As a way to include the local community, Dehaemers invited residents to write messages on vellum — later placed inside the bottles — about the experience of living by Lake Michigan.
Indeed, group effort is a theme of Dehaemers’ art.
In May, he was selected to create a sculpture for the L.A. County Fire Stations Public Art Project at a fire station in Santa Clarita, Calif. He said he might draw upon the historical moments when lines of people would pass buckets of water to one another to extinguish fires.
In his letter to the selection committee, Dehaemers said that the finished piece should “inspire a deeper appreciation for the relationship between firefighters and the public.”
Since his Kansas City debut — the installation of a suspended streetcar made of white rope and plastic pipe as part of the 2003 Avenue of the Arts celebration — Dehaemers has turned into “a real success story,” says Kansas City public art administrator PorterArneill.
Winning the 1 percent for art competition at home and the public art competition in Los Angeles is “on par with being called up to the major leagues,” Arneill said.