WTF — Color Jam(med) by Norbert Marszalek

I don’t understand all the fanfare and gushing reviews for Color Jam, the new outdoor installation by artist Jessica Stockholder at State and Adams, commissioned by Chicago Loop Alliance. The supposed idea for this installation is for the four corners of this intersection to be united by color starting in the street and reaching up about 5-8 stories on each building. I don’t really see the union of color.

First of all, due to the wear-and-tear of cars and people using the street/crosswalk the color is so messy to be almost nonexistence which instantly breaks the “united” feel. Secondly, each corner is “colored” from the sidewalk, to the entrance of the building and ending about 5-8 stories up each building but because the sidewalks, (concrete), entrance ways (wood and various panels) and actual buildings (vinyl) have different surfaces (and the colors have to be applied differently) the colors don’t exactly match so there definitely is a disconnect. On top of that, the vinyl “coloring” on each building gives the appearance of these structures being “under construction” or just being part of the “brand” of the business that occupies that space. Lastly, with all the traffic, people, advertising signage, light poles, wires, etc. it’s very easy for viewers to not even realize they are in the middle of an art installation. The intersection seems to blend into all the other city “noise”.

To summarize, I think it’s a good thing for the city to be involved with public art. The last two art installations commissioned by Chicago Loop Alliance were fun, engaging and interesting but Color Jam clearly is a miss, literally.