Margaret Keller
Riverbend
Critical Mass Public Works Project 
Description of public artwork project and site:
 
Visualize a beautiful, shiny, silver river stretching westward from The Gateway Arch and sited on the pavement of Luther Ely Smith Square.  This approximately 100-foot-long artwork represents the navigable Missouri River, and highlights it as having been the primary means of Westward Expansion, as well as The Gateway to the West.  Made of reflective, mirror-like material, and lying flat on the ground, the eastern end of this artwork would show the Missouri River at its confluence with the Mississippi. Moving across the pebble-aggregate concrete pavement of the Square westward, the artwork would be oriented to the actual route of the Missouri River.  An informative text panel about 18” across and made of the same silver material will be located nearby, also flat on the pavement.  
 
The public would have 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 would appear animated.   The river shape will vary in width from 4” to 8”, it would be fabricated entirely from ‘AlumiGraphics Silver’ (a thin aluminum substrate specifically for concrete). Installed level with the pavement (therefore no barrier/slipping/tripping issues), this substrate is extremely durable, safe for pedestrians, easy to cut, printable, requires no maintenance, is weatherproof and is simple to install.  Adhesive on the reverse side attaches the material to the pavement, yet this material is simple to remove, leaving no residue.
 
Called Riverbend after the poetic names of river bends along the Missouri, this project would make comprehensible the physical vastness and importance of the Missouri River.  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 who’d like to know more, a short podcast will be available on the website (listed on the text panel) and will mention river bends’ names plus interesting facts about the Missouri.  Listeners will also be invited to share their stories of what the river means to them. Emailed stories would be posted online and participants would receive my custom, shiny, animated silver river GIF in return.  
 
Intended impact on viewers:  
 
Viewers will be delighted, surprised, and excited to see Riverbend glittering andstretching out before them.  It fits philosophically into the Playable City movement as it invites exploration and further imagination from all ages.  Riverbend will add beauty, joy, and interest to the both the physical site and to the lives of the public. It fulfills what I see as art’s role: to transform and transport the viewer to another space.  Because this artwork reflects the public, along with their movement through the site, they will feel included and ownership.  
 
Open and accessible to everyone, it will activate the space, spark dialogue and generate community. This project is engaging, simple, and clear- clearly a river.  It is poetic, as opposed to didactic.  Rivers are natural gathering places; Riverbend will be too.  Rivers connect us all. 
 
Renderings and relationship to intended 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 would the surface of this Public Works artwork reflect the Gateway Arch, it would also capture reflections of all the 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 artwork would be placed in the penultimate spot:  the most highly-trafficked and visible option of all those offered by this Public Works Project.  People look where they walk.  Here, the artwork would be constantly welcoming and available nearly 24/7.  
 
Intended fabrication and installation methods:
 
  • I will cut the 26.5” wide rolls of silver material into 35 segments, each 3 feet long, to use to make the approximately 105’ river  
  • From the navigation charts, I will have drawn a simplified river pattern on paper, also divided into 3-foot segments
  • I will trace these 35 patterns of the river shapes onto the silver material and add registration marks, for alignment
  • Next, I will use scissors to cut out the river shapes on each of the 35 segments
  • All this will be completed off-site, before installation
  • Helpers will sweep the pavement and assist in measuring/marking it with temporary chalk marks in order to place the river segments correctly
  • We will peel the material’s backing off to expose the adhesive, place each segment on the pavement in order, and smooth the material with rollers.
 
Preliminary materials list to make the artwork:
 
  • ‘Alumigraphics Silver’ substrate is the primary material used - 20 rolls measuring 26.5”x 10 feet each
  • scissors
  • drawing paper
  • tape
  • tape measure
 
Materials to install the artwork:
  • rollers
  • brooms
  • tape measure
  • chalk
 
Duration: 
This project will last until the end of the year (see timeline), to ensure maximum public enjoyment, exposure, and value for the cost. 
 
Preliminary Timeline:
 
Preparation- 9 weeks:       final design created, planning completed, order  materials, fabrication, PR, labor and rentals set.  From July 20-
September 20.
 
Install and document:       two days: September 20-21, weather allowing. Can not be installed in rain or on wet/damp pavement.  Must be dry.
 
Installation Rain dates:           September 28/29/30
 
Opening:                                September 22, 2-5pm Fall Equinox.
Ends:                                      December 21, Winter Solstice.
 
De-install:                               December 22
 
 
 
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