Art for Social Change

Ambitious Dallas LOVE Project envelops the city as JFK 50th anniversary nears

Dallas LOVE Project envelops the city as JFK 50th anniversary nears

Dallas LOVE Project
The Dallas LOVE Project includes 10,000 pieces of art scattered across the city spreading messages of peace and love. Photo courtesy of Dallas LOVE Project
Dallas LOVE Project
The Dallas LOVE Project was conceived to combat the "City of Hate" label Dallas received after the JFK assassination. Photo courtesy of Dallas LOVE Project
Dallas LOVE Project
Works in the Dallas LOVE Project are on view until November 22. Photo courtesy of Dallas LOVE Project
Dallas LOVE Project
Dallas LOVE Project
Dallas LOVE Project

A big deal was made recently about Nasher Xchange, Nasher Sculpture Center's public art program going on now through February 2014. But perhaps overshadowed by that was the Dallas LOVE Project, a city-wide exhibition designed to honor the memory of President John F. Kennedy leading up to the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

The exhibition, which ends on Friday, November 22, was conceived by 29 Pieces, a local nonprofit that uses art to enact social change. To counteract the label of "City of Hate" that was given to Dallas following the assassination, they invited anyone — artist or not — to create 18-by-18 pieces of art that incorporated a quote about love from famous peacemakers, artists, musicians or writers.

 The project placed around 10,000 pieces of art in 65 different locations around Dallas, making it one of the biggest public art exhibitions ever.

Those pieces were then placed in various spots around the city starting on September 21, which is International Peace Day, including several along the route of JFK's fateful motorcade. Locations start as far south as South Dallas Cultural Center in Fair Park and go as far north as Galleria Dallas, and they range from actual art galleries to sandwich shops.

All in all, the project placed around 10,000 pieces of art in 65 different locations, making it one of the biggest public art exhibitions ever. A map of all the locations can be found on the Dallas LOVE Project site.

Karen Blessen, artistic director and founder of 29 Pieces and executive director for the project, thinks it was a success on a number of levels.

"The Dallas LOVE Project is utter madness in its idealism, its belief in art and creativity and its pure beauty," she says. "It has been total joy to see the depth of heart and mind that so many artists put into their interpretations of words of love and peace from great peacemakers, poets, artists, musicians and from John F. Kennedy."

Blessen is also glad that the project provided an artistic outlet for so many different people.

"The Dallas LOVE Project gave thousands of artists, ranging in age from 5 to 83, the experience of joining in something bigger than any one person, and devoted to the highest ideals of our consciousness," she says. "Does it get any better?"

Blessen hopes the success of this project will lead to other similar endeavors. "The Dallas LOVE Project took wings very early on, for reasons that I will be mulling over for a while," she says.

"The full realization of the 29 Pieces of sculpture that our organization is based on will be a project of enormous scope. I do envision more on this scale [in the future]."