No, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) is not coming apart at the seams. The ribbons of colored tape that will soon be affixed to the front of the museum’s 1915 building are art. More specifically, tape art—the handiwork of Michael Townsend and Leah Smith, a Rhode Island-based public art duo known as… Tape Art.
ArtLords and Tape Art
Just over a year ago, Townsend and Smith collaborated with BMAC and the ArtLords, a group of Brattleboro-based Afghan artists, on a project called “Honoring Honar,” which consisted of 17 temporary murals displayed throughout downtown Brattleboro. Based on the enthusiastic response to that project, BMAC has invited Townsend and Smith to return to Brattleboro in August, this time to create a large mural across the front of the museum building. And the artists are hoping Brattleboro residents and visitors will help them with the museum-sized task at hand.
According to Townsend: “The mural will be a two-part installation that will articulate the architectural makeup of the building. In phase one, the stone blocks of the museum will be lovingly wrapped in a bold blue. The museum will become an artery system of the exposed concrete mortar. In phase two, that artery system will flow with color outwards from the entrance of the museum as the mortar is covered with different colored tapes. By the end of phase two, the entire front of the museum will be a dramatic tape patchwork that will make the building itself a vibrant sculpture. It will be bonkers beautiful!”
The first part of the mural will go up August 2-4 and will be unveiled on August 4 during Gallery Walk, Brattleboro’s monthly first-Friday celebration of all things artful. The second part will be created August 16-18. Townsend and Smith invite people of all ages, abilities, and experience levels to join them between 10 and 4 each day to help with the installations. The mural will remain on view until Sunday, August 27, at noon, at which time all are welcome to help the artists peel off the tape and bid farewell to their temporary artwork.
For those unable to see the mural in person, a time-lapse video of its creation and removal will be made available at brattleboromuseum.org after the project is completed.
“We love presenting art outside the museum, where it can be viewed 24/7,” said BMAC Manager of Education and Community Engagement Programs Kirsten Martsi, “and we love facilitating collaborations between artists and the public. This project does both those things.”
Tape Art is an evolving group of public artists, including Townsend and Smith, who create large-scale temporary drawings and installations out of low-adhesive tape. Founded in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1989, Tape Art is cited as the world’s first tape artist group. All Tape Art creations are intentionally temporary. Over the past 33 years, Tape Art has created over 500 large murals and thousands of smaller drawings on walls around the globe. Tape Art’s extensive teaching practice has resulted in the introduction of tape drawing to over 50,000 people in a wide range of settings, including schools, community centers, senior living facilities, hospitals, and prisons.
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
Founded in 1972, Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs. BMAC is open Wednesday–Sunday, 10–4. Admission is free. Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit brattleboromuseum.org.
BMAC is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, and Whetstone Beer Co.