The City of Alexandria (Virginia) debuted the third installation of its “Site See: New Views in Old Town” annual public art series at Waterfront Park over the weekend of March 20th, 2021. On display until November 2021, Groundswell, by Brooklyn-based artist Mark Reigelman, brings an element of play to Alexandria’s changing shoreline with a ground mural depicting the floor of the Potomac River and more than 100 wood pilings topped with etched blue mirrors that shimmer like water.
Commissioned to create an original installation for Waterfront Park, Reigelman focused on Alexandria’s working waterfront as the shoreline crept further into the Potomac River. In his research, he learned that drastic measures manipulated the city’s shoreline.
Starting in the 18th century, thousands of wood pilings were driven deeper and deeper into the Potomac River over time, thereby shifting the city’s waterfront over decades. This allowed Alexandria to develop and grow its sprawling dock into a major commercial port.
Groundswell pays homage to this ever-evolving history.
The pilings range in heights from 12 to 42 inches, in accordance with the river floor topography, or bathymetry. Each 14-inch-diameter piling is topped with a cobalt blue mirrored surface etched with growth rings that suggest the passing of time. They glisten in the light like the nearby water, reflecting the sky, as well as the faces of passersby.
The “Site See” temporary public art series highlights Waterfront Park as a civic space and is informed by the historic waterfront and neighboring community. Waterfront Park is a key location for original commissioned art in Alexandria.
It follows Olalekan Jeyifous’s 2020 installation Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies and SOFT lab’s 2019 Mirror Mirror installation. I first became aware of this program when covering Jeyifous’s project.
Reigelman was selected to create this site-specific artwork by a community task force with the Alexandria Commission for the Arts’ approval. The City of Alexandria will also commission regional artists to create site-specific performances or activations in response to Groundswell later this year.
Visitors can see Groundswell at Waterfront Park from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily starting in late March. The artwork will remain on view until November 2021.
About Mark Reigelman II
Mark Reigelman’s (American b. 1983) site-specific installations deal in the remarkable. Through his material usage, head-turning scale, or placement in public spaces, his works marry wit, context, and the element of surprise. His approach reevaluates the everyday, reinvigorates public space, and challenges typical urban conditions. Emphasizing research and exploration, his diverse body of work is poised between abstraction and literal representation, which he meticulously integrates into civic spaces.
Public Art in Alexandria, VA
To learn more about public art in Alexandria, review the Public Art Implementation Plan & Policy, or learn more about other public art projects in Alexandria, visit Visitalexandriava.gov/PublicArt or follow @alexartsoffice on Instagram and Twitter. Add to the conversation with #artsALX.installationPublic art
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