By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor
BOZEMAN – On Friday, June 16, Mountain Time Arts kicks off a summer-long public art initiative with the opening of “Upstream,” the first in a series of innovative group exhibitions and interpretive events collectively entitled “WaterWorks” that reflect upon the beauty and science, history and future of the rivers, streams and watersheds of Gallatin Valley.
Running through June 30, “Upstream” features the work of 13 regional artists who, after collaborating with area water conservationists and scientists, have created storefront window exhibits and interactive installations on Main Street that uniquely respond to the themes of spring runoff, Bozeman Creek and municipal water usage within the city.
In addition to 10 storefront window installations on Main Street between Rouse and Willson avenues, Bozeman artist Dalton Rank will project a video installation onto the east side of the Lark Hotel at 10 p.m. on six evenings throughout “Upstream’s” two-week run. Rank’s video “What We Remain” is a visual juxtaposition of the various phases and forms of water with those of human life, highlighting the essential role of water to our existence.
Michael and Caroline Running Wolf, a team of artist-software developers, have created seven augmented reality installations on the sidewalks of Main Street that provide literal insight into municipal water pathways and the challenges to the city’s water supply and treatment due to drought and population growth.
For example, “Bozeman Creek @ Bar IX” employs the sidewalk mosaic in front of the business as a trigger for an associated augmented reality mobile app. After downloading the app, users can hover their smart device over the sidewalk mosaic and, as if the device has X-ray vision, see Bozeman Creek flowing beneath Main Street.
“Besides the ‘wow’ factor, you’ll also learn something about how water works in the city of Bozeman,” said Mountain Time Arts Producer Dede Taylor. “And that’s what ‘Upstream’ is all about—revealing the creek and where our water comes from, where it goes, and how we capture, deliver and treat it in municipal systems.”
Daily tours of Bozeman Creek that provide insight into the history and hydrology of the creek will also be offered.
Coinciding with the completion of the Bozeman Creek Enhancement Project at Bogert Park, “Upstream” will also include two creek-side aerial dance performances in the park pavilion by San Francisco-based Zaccho Dance Theatre on June 23 and 24.
After “Upstream,” the series moves outward from its urban focus for “Wetlands,” a multiscreen video and sound installation by Bently Spang at Manhattan’s Dry Creek Schoolhouse from July 21-30. The series will close with “Gabriel Canal,” a performance piece by Mary Ellen Strom and composer Greg Young staged on a historic homestead on the West Gallatin River from August 23-25. Related tours will accompany both projects.
“WaterWorks” was funded by a $350,000 grant from the ArtPlace America Creative Placemaking Fund. It was one of 29 projects funded nationwide out of nearly 1,400 applicants.
“The concept of running out of water is kind of inconceivable to humans, but we may really struggle with finding solutions,” Taylor said, noting Gallatin Valley’s steep anticipated population growth in coming decades. “We have all of the facts and data and arguments, but we believe art is the thing that can stir people’s imaginations and emotions and add that element that will make them care—not only open their minds to the reality of it, but offer a more creative approach to how to deal with it.”
An opening celebration for “Upstream” takes place from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, June 16, at Soroptimist Park on the corner of Main Street and Rouse Avenue in downtown Bozeman from 6-8 p.m. Visit mountaintimearts.org for a full schedule of events and to sign up for associated tours.