24 artists, architects and designers from the Americas have work in the central exhibition at the Biennial of the Americas which closes at the end of the month. While there are some terrific pieces in the show,I confess that the star is the McNichols building itself. The former Carnegie library, situated on a prime corner of downtown's Civic Center park, has been the phantom of the park. There, but not there, present but absent. For the past decade it was the offices for city workers, apparently divided into a rabbit warren of cubicles, cheap carpeting and dropped ceilings circa 1960. Now, stripped down to its bare bones, it is a ravishing beauty with drop dead views of the park and surrounding civic buildings. The exhibit takes full advantage of the open spaces and offers tantalizing glimpses of its past, in areas with fragments of beautiful tiled floors areas.
The exhibit has a tendency towards the didactic, not surprising since the curator,Paola Santoscoy is a recent Cal Arts Grad student. However, there are beauties too; most memorably Pedro Reyes use of confiscated firearms remade into shovels to plant trees. There are some great videos and a compelling piece by Clark Richert.
Unfortunately, the Biennial, which many felt was rushed and given insufficient planning time, was crammed into one month. Certainly an exhibit such as this deserves a decent run. The Nature of Things comes down at the end of July so if you want to see it and enjoy a peek inside the phantom of the park, come down to Civic Center this week.