Art in the Open

NorthPark Center re-ups on public art with edgy Ivan Navarro exhibition

NorthPark Center re-ups on public art with Ivan Navarro exhibition

Ivan Navarro's This Land is Your Land
Ivan Navarro's This Land Is Your Land goes on display at NorthPark Center starting May 21. Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein
Ivan Navarro's This Land is Your Land
The works serve as a statement on the political and personal experience of immigration. Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein
Ivan Navarro's This Land is Your Land
The towers were previously on display in New York's Madison Square Park. Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein
Ivan Navarro's This Land is Your Land
Ivan Navarro's This Land is Your Land
Ivan Navarro's This Land is Your Land

NorthPark Center has been a haven for public art since it opened in 1965. The mall continues to build on that reputation by hosting an exhibition of Ivan Navarro's This Land Is Your Land, three elevated wooden water towers that are more than they appear at first glance.

Navarro's work, which takes its title from Woody Guthrie's iconic folk song, looks like three normal water towers from a distance. When visitors walk underneath each, however, they see different neon words or images — such as "ME/WE," "BED" or a ladder — decorating the inside of the structures.

The neon is reflected endlessly inside, which Navarro intends as a statement on the political and personal experience of immigration. In a statement, the artist likened his work to its new environment in the way that both provide a temporary visual reality.

"By positioning This Land Is Your Land in NorthPark Center, the viewer is both reminded of this outdoor structure that helps sustain their communities and is transported within the shopping mall," he said. "Upon walking under the sculpture, the viewer is presented with a temporary visual reality. In a similar manner, shopping malls provide a contained experiential environment outside of daily life."

The three towers go on display starting May 21 and will remain at NorthPark for a full year. The works will be on view on the first level of the west side of the complex, between Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. They were previously on display at Madison Square Park in New York City.

Navarro, a native of Santiago, Chile, now lives and works in Brooklyn. He is internationally renowned for his socio-politically charged sculptures of neon, fluorescent and incandescent light. In 2009, he represented Chile in the 53rd Venice Biennale and has had solo and group shows around the globle.

The introduction of Navarro's work gives NorthPark the second significant new display of public art in less than a year, as it previously hosted Charles Long's Fountainhead as part of Nasher Sculpture Center's Xchange program.