First Look: POP-X takes over Liberty Plaza

. October 15, 2015.

With an eye on making artwork more accessible to the general public, the Ann Arbor Art Center and a team of local artists have partnered to launch the first ever POP-X festival starting today, October 15 until October 24.

The festival features a series of 10×10 pavilions filled with exhibits from local artists and art groups. The main festival is centered on Liberty Plaza Park downtown, with live music every day, theater, picnics, and lectures on artistic engagement in the community.

The goal of the festival, according to Pop-X Director Omari Rush, is to use artwork and the festival’s central location to bring people that might not otherwise engage with art together.

Below are just a few of the artists and exhibits featured at the festival. Make sure to head downtown over the next week to check out all of the displays. Visitors should use the hashtag #a2popx to share their experience with the Ann Arbor Art Center, @A2ArtCenter, and Current magazine, @ecurrent.

The pavilions are free and open to the public everyday from 10am to 8pm.

Joe Levickas

For his exhibit, local artist Joe Levickas was concerned about how to draw people into the small huts and get them to stay once they’re there.

“One of the things we considered was it’s this outdoor space,” said Levickas Wednesday night. “How do you get people to spend time in this 10 by 10 space and not feel claustrophobic?”

His solution was to invite residents of Ann Arbor to a dinner party, hosted by him and a bunch of his artist friends from all across the country.

“I’ve lived in lots of different places,” said Levickas. “So we wanted to bring people together from all over the country for a specific piece.”

Brenda Oelbaum

Local political and social activist Brenda Oelbaum’s exhibit has more of an interactive element. Visitors can write down their problems and place them in a black velveteen bag and then either leave their bag full of problems with Brenda, take their problems home, or trade them for someone else's.

The goal, said Oelbaum, is to help visitors get problems off their chest – which in itself can be a relief – as well as make people more aware of the problems going on in others.

“It’s kind of bizarre having little houses in a park where a lot of people are without a home,” said Oelbaum. “A lot of people don’t come here to the park, because there’s a lot of drug activity and the police have been here more often too. I think most people, when they see other people’s problems, might not think theirs are so bad.”

There is a $10 suggested donation for taking bags home, with all proceeds from the instillation going towards the benefit of community members who have problems with basic food and clothing needs.

Chazz Miller

Like Oelbaum, Miller’s artwork comes with a message, what he calls, “a tribute to immigration.” Included in his exhibit is a proposed mural of one million selfies, for which he is currently raising funds, that would be placed in a space near the Detroit Institute of Art in downtown Detroit featuring one million selfies.

“The focus of my large-scale public art is to project inner visions of truth into the world,” said Miller. “Visions that raise the social and environmental aesthetic and that touch the individual on the deepest psychic and personal level.”

Patrons can stop by Miller’s pavilion from 10am to 7pm all week and create art with Miller, as well as view his latest piece unveiled specifically for the festival, which he said was inspired, “by a dream of the Statue of Liberty.”

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