Margaret Keller
Riverbend
Critical Mass Public Works 2018 Public Art Project 

Visualize a shiny, silver river stretching westward from The Gateway Arch and sited on the pavement of Luther Ely Smith Square in this national park.  This 105-foot-long artwork represents the navigable Missouri River, and highlights it as the primary means of Westward Expansion, as well as The Gateway to the West.  Both themes are those of The Gateway Arch.  Made of reflective, mirror-like material, and lying flat on the ground, the eastern end of this artwork shows the Missouri River at its confluence with the Mississippi. Moving across the pebble-aggregate concrete pavement westward, the artwork orients to the actual route of the Missouri River.  Informative text panels of the same silver material are placed nearby on the pavement.  
 
The public has access from either end and from any point in between, to walk, bike, run, play or just sit along this installation.  Literally a river of brilliant, changing light, the artwork appears animated.   The river shape varies from 4” to 12” wide, and is fabricated entirely from a new material, AlumiGraphics Silver (a thin aluminum substrate specifically for concrete). Installed level with the pavement (no barriers/slipping/tripping issues), this substrate is durable, safe for pedestrians, easy to cut, printable, requires no maintenance, and is weatherproof.  Adhesive on the reverse side attaches the material to the pavementso it is removeable and leaves no residue.
 
Called Riverbend after the poetic names of river bends along the Missouri River, this project makes comprehensible the physical vastness and importance of the Missouri River and reinforces the symbolism of this national park.  It celebrates and makes visible the river’s massive role both past and present. As the longest river in North America, there are 140 US Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Navigation Charts; these are the basis for my design, which encompasses 735 navigable miles.  Some of the river bend names are Cranberry, Sheepnose, Papillon, Springhouse, Slaughterhouse, Bushwacker, Bootlegger, Pinckney and Plowboy.
 
For those interested, a short podcast is available on this website with more about the Missouri River.  Listeners are invited to share their stories and photos of what the river means to them; these are also posted on this website.

Intended impact on viewers:   
Viewers coming upon Riverbend are surprised by its presence, glittering and stretching out before them.  It fits philosophically into the Playable City movement as it invites exploration and imagination from all ages.  Riverbend transforms and transports the viewer.  It literally reflects the public, along with their movement through the site.  Open and accessible to everyone, it activates the space, sparks dialogue and hopefully generates community in the sense that rivers are natural gathering places, even representations of rivers, and connect us all. 

Installation site:
Embedded in the artwork are references to the mirror-like surface, sleek contemporary design and cutting-edge technology of the iconic Gateway Arch and all that it represents. Not only does the surface of this Public Works artwork reflect the Gateway Arch, it also captures reflections of visitors, highlighting them as part of the site.  Having it in close proximity to the Arch is ideal, with a location just outside the new entrance to the Arch.  This is the penultimate spot:  the most highly-trafficked and visible option of all those offered by this project, with over 4 million visitors per year.  People look where they walk.  Here, the artwork is constantly welcoming and available nearly 24/7.  
 
Fabrication and installation methods:
- The Alumigraphics Silver material was cut into 41 segments, each 3'4" x 26.5", for a finished diagonal length of 105’ (the curve of the river stretches 66' north/south x 72' east/west, fitting within a giant triangle).

-The design was derived from the navigation charts; 41 different patterns were created on paper, one for each of 41 segments, measuring
3'4" x 26.5".

-Each pattern was transcribed to the silver material and registration marks were added, for alignment.

-The 41 segments were cut out.

-Fabrication was completed off-site, before installation.

-For installation, the site pavement was cleaned, measured and temporarily marked for correct placement. 

-Each segement was positioned and adhered using pressure from various rollers.  

Duration: 
This project runs until the end of the year (see timeline below), to ensure maximum public interaction, visibility, and value for the commission. 
 
Timeline:
Nine weeks were allowed for all preparation, creation of the final design, planning the installation, procuring materials, the fabrication process, publicity, installation, planning the opening events and all reservations (reserving the bluegrass band/equipment rentals/etc.), from July 20-September 20.
 
Install and document:           September 20-21
Opening:                                September 22, 2-5pm Fall Equinox.
Ends:                                      December 21, Winter Solstice.
De-install:                               December 22
 
 
 
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