While San Diego County's two port terminals stand as symbols of local and international industry, they aren't very pleasing to the eye. But that'll change in March 2014, when temporary, large-scale art installations by Minneapolis, Minn., artist Randy Walker will be erected at the Tenth Ave Marine Terminal and National City Marine Terminal as part of a Port of San Diego public-art project.
The WRAP Project aims to bring to these spaces art that creatively uses the theme of wrapping, as it pertains to a working port. The project is part of a five-year campaign to bring more public art to San Diego's waterfront. The port's Public Art Office sent out a national call for artists and received more than 50 submissions. Walker was chosen at the end of a selection process that included a review each applicant's body of work and several interviews.
"The selection panel and Port's Public Art Committee were really impressed by Walker's ability to work with existing structures as a framework for artistic interventions," says Yvonne Wise, curator at the Public Art Office, in an email. "His past projects have not only incorporated elements of wrapping but have been carefully conceived, for very unique site-specific installations."
Walker, a trained architect who's previously been commissioned to create public art in Georgia, Wisconsin and Minnesota, has visited each site multiple times. With the Tenth Avenue terminal supplying him with about 100 acres of space and the National City terminal closer to 200 acres, Walker has a huge project on his hands.
"I began to think how some art installation there can work," Walker tells CityBeat. "It's a daunting task just because of the sheer size. It's something that will make an impact. There are a few concepts brewing in my head. What I'm doing is looking at all the aspects of the sites—what goes on there, what are the forms and objects that are there, how they are used. Something minute there can give me inspiration for something really large."
Through these installations, the port hopes to bring visually appealing pieces to the waterfront to entice pedestrians, workers and tourists to experience the harbor in a different way. Along with that, the installations will aim to conceal large structures and equipment at each terminal while also shedding light on the everyday activities of each site, Wise says.
"This is the first time artwork will be installed at the Port's maritime terminals in San Diego and National City," she adds. "The two sites are really amazing for artistic exploration. The goal is not only to link the two terminals with one artwork that has primary and secondary components, but to also get the public to think differently about the work that occurs on the working waterfront."
While Walker will work closely with the port on a design and plan for both installations, he's hoping the public will also provide input. Folks will have a chance to put in their two cents and learn more about the WRAP Project in a discussion with the artist and members of the Public Art Office at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at Woodbury School of Architecture (2212 Main St. in Barrio Logan).