The Salem City Council has some important Public Space business on the Agenda for tonight’s meeting (10/25 @ 7pm): 289 Derby Street (aka The Carnival Lot) could become one of the newest and most exciting Public Spaces in town.
The Carnival Lot is named for the two weeks in October that it is used as a carnival – like right now! The otherwise empty parcel is the most significant Public Space Opportunity for the City of Salem in years. The $1.4 million acquisition of the lot appears affordable as a bond order and an annual payment through the Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding, roughly at 12.5% of the total CPA yearly capacity.
As a city, we have the opportunity to create a vital public space in the center of town that connects to so many community desires that I could write a list longer than you’d care to read. Here are 7 main points:
- The Carnival Lot is a unique space in the city that can be a gathering space at the intersection of downtown, a thriving commercial corridor, the Point neighborhood, part of the Harbor Walk, and waterside access, all within a dense urban context.
- Unlike any other public space in Salem, the proportion of the space creates an ideal outdoor room. Up the road, Derby Square functions as our historic “living room.” The Carnival Lot is also defined by masonry buildings on two sides, but has the bustling activity of Derby Street at one pedestrian entrance, and the South River on the other to create the feel of a true urban “front porch” with unique uses, such as “Seaside Cinema” perhaps?
- The Carnival Lot is a crucial anchor space to facilitate the realization of the South River Harbor Walk as a complete loop that connects across neighborhoods and offers a unique connection to a waterway in the middle of our city. Without this space, the walkway will lack a space for gathering that will create a place, rather than only a walk.
- The lot offers a unique connection to the South River that symbolically (and perhaps literally!) can bridge across to one of our most dynamic and undervalued neighborhood, The Point.
- The lot as a public space can connect for water activities on the currently underused South River.
- The lot itself provides unique opportunities for pedestrian connections, much like the most endearing public spaces in the city from the Essex Street mall and the myriad alleys to the Ropes Mansion Garden to new trails (from rails), a unique pedestrian system of getting through the city enables the robust foot traffic that makes for active, safe, and useful spaces.
- We have the opportunity to truly “Still Make History” by creating one of the most beautiful, exciting, and dynamic river walks in the state.
One of the most exciting aspects of acquiring The Carnival Lot is the potential for a genuine on-site, public process of what to do with it! Salem Public Space Project imagines great public gatherings exploring possibilities, experiments in the space with temporary notions, conversations about everyone’s ideas from stewardship and ecology to food-trucks and theater…. yes, we imagine and advocate an all-inclusive, all out, participatory process! That is our dream and hope for The Carnival Lot: both its process of becoming and the gathering space we create together will constitute a beautiful and forward thinking legacy of urban design and public space in Salem.
From Flatbread to Notch, to new businesses across the street and river, the adjacent activity makes The Carnival Lot’s emptiness even more conspicuous. The alternative of an eventual built development (like condos, let’s say) would detract from the value of the location to the surrounding businesses, as well as the public. A novel, vital public space complements and adds real value to the existing and growing density.
Write your Councilor if you support the Public Space Opportunity and / or attend the meeting at City Hall, tomorrow October 25 at 7pm.
Salem Public Space Cards are a project to cast an artful gaze onto our shared public spaces.
The cards will feature a photo of a public space on one side taken from the unique perspective of a local photographer, and a poem inspired by the photo on the other, and packaged with a map of all locations.
They will be launched and for sale at the Salem Arts Festival 2017.
Deadline for photo submission: Nov 6, 2016
To participate, contact us!
Pinwheel Making Workshops every Tuesday in April 6-8pm at 10 Derby Square! Join us! (space is limited)
You are Invited to Participate!
We’re excited to introduce Move With Me, this year’s participatory community art installation for the Salem Arts Festival.
We invite participants to connect to Salem’s continued legacy of sailing by creating pinwheels from sailcloth donated by Doyle Sailmakers, a local institution since 1982! We use the wasted bits and left over pieces to create pinwheels playfully reminiscent of power-generating turbines.
Participants connect to distant cultures by taking time to draw out cultural patterns from across the world, directly onto the sailcloth with permanent markers to withstand the rain.
Choose a country you’d like to represent, dig up a cultural pattern, textile or motif and draw it on a sailcloth square! (Contact us for pinwheel kits.) The pinwheels lightly touch Front Street and are made of mostly recycled materials.
The multiple pinwheels above Front Street, like a movable quilt of cultural patterns, will embody the communal movement and connection of cultures across waters and land from the past to now, moving in confluence when the wind is just right.
In the months leading to the festival on June 3-5, Claudia and others will lead workshops to color and make these pinwheels. Join her at 10 Derby Square every Tuesday in April from 6-8pm!
Deadline to receive your sailcloth square(s): April 30th
Deadline to contribute your colored square(s): May 31st
Move With Me is led by Claudia Paraschiv, local architect, public artist, and founder of Salem Public Space Project. In 2014 she led the participatory project HulaArt over Artists Row. Last year, local fiber artist Kate Babcock led Front Yard Street Art. Leslie Lavesque and the Phoenix School students have been instrumental in the development of these community art projects. A big thank you to Kylie Sullivan of Main Streets for enabling it all and John Andrews of Creative Salem for documenting it all!
HulaArt is a collection of individual, unique art expressions aggregated together to create a unified installation greater than the sum of its parts, yet simultaneously modified by those discrete contributions. This collaborative art installation helped to increase the participation in art making at this year’s Salem Arts Festival (SAF). During the last four months, over 120 students, artists, and locals created unique art pieces that have been integrated into the HulaArt Canopy for this weekend’s festivities.
The project design began in earnest in January after the SAF committee approved a rendering of what a hula hoop canopy over Artists’ Row might look like. The design needed to evolve at two different scales: at the macro level, over four hundred hula hoops had to span the irregular buildings of Artist Row.
At the micro level, we worked to promote the re-use of recycled materials to create diverse art expressions. Through early March workshops at the Phoenix School, kids freely interpreted and greatly improved the possibilities for how HulaArt could work. together we evolved two distinct approaches: “Objects on a String” and “Fabric Stretch.”
The public launch of the project at the Peabody Essex Museum’s Artopia night began a series of HulaArt workshops throughout Salem during the spring, in addition to groups and individuals that took on HulaArt unaided.
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After a sunny, ten hour installation, over four hundred hula hoops, a fifth of which were transformed into HulaArt, form a colorful canopy above Salem’s Artist Row. The installation was performance art when we watched people negotiate the pedestrian street paved with the hoops, acrobatic circus when two cherry pickers, several ladders, and people on the ground too lifted each of the five sections of the canopy into place, and a chance to speak to numerous people about what it was: public art, collaboration, and the upcoming Salem Arts Festival this weekend.
A great deal of imagination is still needed for the Palmer Street lot as it remains in a legal tangle. Last fall, we gathered over 90 suggestions of what residents hope the Palmer Lot will become in the future. It is still uncertain since its owner is still nowhere to be found, but retains the right to his property since it is current on all taxes, thanks to the mortgage company. Now, it stands, still colorful, with “community” as its tagline, but a bit of a relic before its time. As noted above: imagination is sorely needed! (and perhaps some legal knowledge wouldn’t hurt!)