If you’re taking a stroll in Alexandria, you might happen upon a curious site: more than 100 wood pilings on the ground, each topped with an etched blue mirror giving the appearance of shimmering water. That’s the latest installment in an ongoing series of temporary art in the city.
Groundswell is meant to evoke images of the floor of the Potomac River as well as Alexandria’s maritime history and its changing shoreline. It’s the work of Mark Reigelman, a Cleveland-born artist who now lives in Brooklyn and who describes his artistic philosophy as someone who “reevaluates the everyday, reinvigorates public space, and challenges typical urban conditions.”
The ground mural is the third installation in the City of Alexandria’s Site See: New Views in Old Town, a nationally recognized annual public art series meant to promote the city as a destination with world-class artwork and highlight Waterfront Park as a civic space. The artwork rotates annually, attracting repeat visits from locals and visitors and invigorating the space with color and texture while paying homage to its regional and national importance over the centuries.
To create the work, Reigelman researched Alexandria’s history as a working waterfront, studying how the city expanded and crept into the river. His selection of wood pilings is a nod to the material first used for early buildings, including Pioneer Mill, and one that’s still a common feature along the marina. Atop a grayscale ground mural are raw wood pilings that are 14 inches in diameter and range in height from 12 to 42 inches, installed in accordance with the Potomac River’s typography, or bathymetry. Each is topped with a cobalt blue mirror that’s etched with growth rings to suggest the passage of time; as they shimmer in the light to look like water, they reflect the sky and the faces of those who come to check out the artwork.
Reigelman, who studied Sculpture and Industrial Design at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio, and product design at Central Saint Martins University of the Arts in London, has exhibited his work in other public areas, galleries and museums including the Cleveland Museum of Glass, Museum of Modern Art, and Shanghai Museum of Glass. Other notable projects include Rock Boxes distributed in downtown Cleveland that create sound as pedestrians walk toward the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Formation, which adds vibrant colors and patterns to the façade of the San Diego International Airport.
Groundswell will be on display until November 2021. For more information, visit Alexandria’s Waterfront Public Art page.
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