Tempo is all over Austin, but it took sighting a sacred whale before I discovered it. The City of Austin’s Art in Public Places is in the middle of an ambitious program of temporary exhibits this fall. According to the City’s website, the Tempo program “allows artists to explore a range of themes suitable for the outdoor environment and provides the opportunity for innovative, thought-provoking artwork that impacts the way people experience their environment.” From what I can tell, this is the second year for the program and the black and white painted electrical box is one of the Tempo installations.
A call for proposals earlier in the year, specifically for temporary events produced 12 projects in a variety of media and locations. This piece, which seems to be titled “Signals,” is actually one of five paintings and poetry on electrical boxes by Christine Angelone and Alexander Bingham. Their pieces are on display along South 1st Street through December. There’s a small plaque explaining that these pieces are based on children’s books. The image of the whale at night in a black ocean seems familiar, but I couldn’t find the original source. The title and the words of the poem didn’t produce anything familiar in several Google searches.
The poem and the image evoke a feeling of quiet strength and reassurance. Though the viewer stands street side, not far from bustling traffic, the artwork invites a small escape to a dreamy world of beauty and serenity.
“Sometimes I go along
As a sacred giant
I imagine silence
Wrapped up in an inky blanket
White stars shining through
Through the watery trenches
Of the deepest place on Earth
The mind is still
Long enough to find the center
Right where your feet are planted
You, my dear, are a flower amongst the weeds.”
Signals is on view at South 1st Street and Elizabeth St. through December 29, 2016