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‘Construction season’ builds a rainbow at MAG

MAG Centennial Park rainbow
Image courtesy of Bayer Landscape Architecture, PLLC.
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CITY Magazine
The second phase of the Memorial Art Gallery's Centennial Sculpture Park will include "Lover's Rainbow" by Pia Camil.

As the old saying goes, Rochester has two seasons: winter and construction. In keeping with the adage, the southwest lawn of the Memorial Art Gallery is torn up. But there’s a rainbow at the end of this summer construction slog.

The mess is part of the second phase of the Centennial Sculpture Park, which entails the installation of two monumental sculptures, new pedestrian pathways, and refreshed landscaping. A ribbon cutting is tentatively set for October.

The two new sculptures — “Lover’s Rainbow” by Mexican artist Pia Camil, and a yet-to-be-titled mosaic wall by New York City-based artist Rashid Johnson — will anchor the expansion of the park on the MAG’s campus closest to the School of the Arts, joining 12 other sculptures that were installed when the Centennial Sculpture Park opened in 2013.

Camil’s “Lover’s Rainbow” will be a highly-Instagrammable stop for visitors to the Neighborhood of the Arts. The giant archway, made of steel rebar painted to resemble a rainbow that will span several dozen feet of the open lawn, is likely to show up in cheerful social media posts.

MAG Rashid Johnson sculpture
Image courtesy of Bayer Landscape Architecture, PLLC.
/
CITY Magazine
A rendering of Rashid Johnson's as yet unnamed sculpture is depicted on the MAG's southwest lawn near the School of the Arts.

Johnson’s mosaic wall, which will be situated closest to Prince Street, facing the School of the Arts, was designed specifically with SOTA students in mind. The work will form a curved wall covered in mosaic tiles that depict the images of genderless and raceless faces, and is meant to entice students to spend time on the MAG’s campus and perhaps serve as a pretend audience as students practice a monologue or recite poetry.

The sculpture park’s expansion underscores the project’s overall aim to open up the 15-acre campus by removing more of the wrought iron gate that used to sequester MAG from the neighborhood, and invite passersby to walk the grounds or sit and chat with friends, museum officials said.

MAG new s
Image courtesy of Bayer Landscape Architecture, PLLC.
/
CITY Magazine
Two new sculptural works by Rashid Johnson (foreground) and Pia Camil (background) pictured will be installed on the southwest lawn of the Memorial Art Gallery in 2022.

“Museums always were this place where you go, you see the art, you absorb it, and then leave,” said Memorial Art Gallery Director Jonathan Binstock at the time of the groundbreaking last fall. “I think all of this is really about shifting the relationship, so it's not only welcoming the camera, but it's also making the community the centerpiece.”

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's life editor. She can be reached at becca@rochester-citynews.com.

Rebecca Rafferty joined CITY as an arts reporter in 2008 and served as the arts editor from 2017 to 2021. She is currently CITY's life editor and co-producer of CITY and WXXI's art/WORK video series.