Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Art Yarning The Kalamazoo Mall

There's a reason they call them "yarnstorms" - it's because all of us in ZooKnit have been knitting up a "storm" for our latest art project: the Kalamazoo downtown mall. If want want a closer look at any of the photos, just click on them.

We chose the Mall because of it's central location for tonight's monthly Art Hop, where many galleries and restaurants are open late on the first Friday of the month. Here's the result of many, many hours of knitting by many different people.

Sheila's many tree scarves were bright and colorful, just as she is!

The piece above was hung from an umbrella that sits over one of the public patio tables. After we were finished with our project we went across the street for supper. When I came out, it was gone. Obviously, someone really liked it. It lasted less than two hours.

We know our art won't last long after installation. We accept that, and we hope it's new owners will appreciate the time and effort each piece required. I'd love to think that this brightly colored piece will be worn this winter. If so, then I am honored to have made it for someone who loved it enough to take it, and probably needed it.

We have a rule: We check our installations regularly, and if any remain after two weeks, we remove it. Our yarn art is meant to be a temporary joy, hopefully bringing an unexpected smile or giggle.

We attracted a lot of attention. First, there was the grumpy police officer, walking through the Mall. He stopped and watched us for a few minutes, sipping his cold drink. I waved, but he didn't wave back. Since he was only about 10 yards from us, I waved again. He frowned. I asked him why he wasn't waving back (may as well strike up a conversation, right?), and he answered gruffly, "I'm trying to figure out what you are doing."

During this exchange, the other gals are continuing to install our yarn. They're pretending he doesn't exist, while I'm explaining, "Oh, we're just doing an art installation for the Art Hop."

"When's that?" grumps the cop. "It's tomorrow night," I said. "Hmmmpphhhh." said the cop, and he wandered away. I would have taken a photo of him, but decided to leave well enough alone. No point in aggravating a non-yarnie with a badge.

So we continued on. And we attracted a lot of attention from passersby. Street people abound in downtown Kalamazoo, and they've learned to befriend - temporarily - anyone who will talk with them. One man talked quite a bit about his poetry about God, and about his obituary poem. Another man, sitting on a nearby bench, mostly talked to himself but would occasionally would direct his discussions towards us, and we would nod sagely and smile. Nearly every street person asked us for money, and just smiled and moved on when we politely said no.

(Within two blocks of the Kalamazoo Mall are two different missions, both available to street people; all the local street people are familiar with and use these missions. However, we were new "targets" on the mall, so we were fair game for panhandling, especially since Mr. Police Officer was no longer around.)

One of the funniest moments was when we learned we had just beautifully decorated a mobile plant! Val had placed pretty glass ornaments with yarn inside around what she thought was a big bush, only to learn from the owner that the bush was in a planter on wheels, and that they wheeled it into Cafe Casa each evening at close, fearing it wouldn't be there the next morning. We quickly offered to undecorate it, but they liked our decorations very much, and asked if it was okay if they could just wheel their yarned bush inside and then outdoors each day! (Sorry, the camera didn't come out until after they'd closed for the day, art yarned bush safely inside their cafe.)

We liked those folks so much for their positive attitude, we left them a present - a rainbow yarn curlicue with the tag "You are beautiful" on their shop's door handle. (see photo above)

We had so many positive comments from those strolling the mall. And three people offered to take our photo with our camera! Guess they recognized our pride in our art, and wanted to help us document ourselves doing what we love.

Here's some more art we installed last night - enjoy!

Glass yarn balls hanging from a tree, plus a neckerchief for the water fountain.

The Chain and Lock was a fabulous project that Terri knit and then hung on a pair of doors at one of the closed stores on the Mall. We did our part to beautify the trash bins, too!

We love all the seating on the Mall, and concentrated on decorating them too. But one of the best parts of our installation was the Dog-wood Tree, sporting knit dogs from Zooknitter Joan.

We left hanging tags attached to our art throughout the project, asking for comment at this blog, hoping to get some input on our art mission. In the meantime, we're gearing up for our next project. More guerrilla knitting coming somewhere in Kalamazoo soon . . .


Holly Bee said...

Love it!! You guys are a riot!

Dutch Hollow said...

What a great, fun and colorful idea. Love all the photos of the work. Hope it ends up bringing a smile to the cop too.

WonderWhyGal said...

Amazing Job! I love the decorations even more this time. The yarn balls are adorable and the chains on the door are my favorite. One day I will get a chance to go to a park you have worked on while the gifts are still displayed.

Anonymous said...

Always love finding your collective works! Here's more images:

beth pulsipher said...

Glad you enjoyed them - your photos of our yarn art on Flickr are lovely!
Thanks so much for your comment (excellent photo of our card, by the way!)