I recently had the remarkable experience of working alongside Julien de Casabianca and dozens of community artists and activists as we instigated a new phase of the Outings Project in Jacksonville. For just over a week, Casabianca was artist in residence at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens and in the streets of our city. More than forty images from the museum’s Permanent Collection were released from their frames, joining the dozen that popped up on buildings and in parks last summer.
About the Outings Project
Outings is a participatory street art project birthed by photographer and filmmaker Julien de Casabianca. After decades of creating his own work and teaching young artists in Paris, Casabianca was inspired by a small portrait of a woman in the Louvre. “She was beautiful. She seemed lost amongst the many large paintings and looked bored,” says Casabianca. “I had a ‘Prince Charming’ impulse to free her from the frame and the museum.” This first wheat paste on the streets of Paris has since led to hundreds of portraits from local museums being unleashed in cities around the world.
Although it would be a beautiful undertaking in its own right, Casabianca aims to do more than select portraits from museums, find interesting walls for installation, and then photograph the installations for exhibition. He believes strongly in engaging citizens in the process and has done so in cities across the world, encouraging individuals to connect to museum collections in their city.
Making Art Accessible
This project is one of hundreds of initiatives worldwide that aim to push art into public places. From large-scale sculptures and painted murals to graffiti and more ephemeral wheat paste installations, artists are playing a major role in beautifying cities and making art more accessible.
Great public art can have a significant impact on a city, a neighborhood, or an individual. As seen in new initiatives and conversations around the role of public art in Jacksonville’s Downtown development, the street level engagement of citizens, and the beautification of our city, there is something marvelous about art that engages people on streets, in parks, on riverbanks, and in public plazas. We experience this marvel every day at the Cummer Museum. The Cummer family included outdoor sculptures in their garden plans and Ninah Cummer was an advocate for public art in our city’s parks. This trend continues today with the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Community Sculpture Garden & Plaza and other public art on the lawn of the museum, inviting all who pass the campus to connect with powerful works of art while moving through the outdoor space.
The Outings Project extends the Cummer’s efforts to make its collection accessible. By taking historic images out of the context of the museum and putting them onto the streets, viewers are invited to create their own narratives. In addition, it is hoped that these temporary works will inspire a deeper, sustained commitment to public art in Jacksonville.
The Cummer partnered with a remarkable group of artists and activists to begin its first Outings installation, long before Casabianca’s visit. Corey Kolb, Dolf James, Doug Eng, Michael Gilinski, Mark McCombs, Rick Shimer, and others, spent the summer installing portraits on walls throughout Downtown and Riverside.
These early Jacksonville Outings caught the attention of Casabianca, leading to a wonderful partnership that culminated in an exhibition of his work at the museum and a weeklong residency in November. Thanks to the support of the Cultural Council and Vystar Credit Union, his visit was anchored by a public lecture. Casabianca shared his artful journey with a standing-room only audience mesmerized by his beautiful photographs, his generous storytelling, and his passion for his work.
Article written by Hope McMath
For a list of paintings and locations go to: www.cummermuseum.org/jax-outings.