Work is underway on the Charleston Area Alliance-commissioned Mountainscape Fence Weave Project on the U.S. Post Office chain-link fence along Leon Sullivan Way.
Charleston-based artist Jack O’Hearn, who focuses on interactive installation art with an emphasis on community engagement, is transforming the fencing, weaving in plastic slats to create a landscape of mountains and clouds. The fence weave project is between Lee and Washington Street.
The goal of the project is to bring energy and life into the community’s public space, which serves as a gateway into the city for those entering the city from Interstate 64. The fence weave project is coordinated by the Charleston Area Alliance and funded by John and Fonda Elliot and a West Virginia Community Participation Grant.
“Working with Jack, we’ve been able to develop simple solutions that have a remarkable impact on the shaping of the community,” said Susie Salisbury, the Alliance’s vice president of community development. “The Mountainscape Fence Weave Project will animate a previously lifeless public space, build community morale and become central to the identity of the neighborhood.”
O’Hearn is a freelance artist and designer that partners with organizations and businesses on unique projects designed to benefit local communities. Most recently, he completed a Trash Receptacle Project for the Alliance, designing and creating artistic wraps to cover the City of Charleston’s trash barrels used at event such as Downtown Streetfest, Live on the Levee and FestivALL. It was funded by a West Virginia Community Participating Grant.
“Each trash receptacle design is a celebration of Charleston and its unique diversity of urban and rural mountain lifestyles,” said O’Hearn. “The plaques and background textures were created using source material from the city’s downtown metropolitan area, while the silhouetted imagery is representative of the natural environment that surrounds the city’s urban center.”
O’Hearn has embarked on several other placemaking projects for the Alliance over the past six months,- aiming to foster the community’s sense of pride and ownership in public spaces. In the spring of 2017, he installed the Alliance’s Rainworks Project, which included sidewalk art throughout downtown Charleston that only appeared when the pavement was wet.
He is also working on a Downtown Streetfest Community Art Project, which is a large-scale painting using community member’s submitted artwork illustrating their perspective of and hopes for the Kanawha Valley community. Following the August Downtown Streetfest, he will use the collected drawings to create a large-scale, colorful painting to be displayed in downtown venues and storefront windows. All of the contributors will be able to find their drawings in the painting and see how O’Hearn interpreted them. The final product is a painting about community, created by the Kanawha Valley community.
The artist earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Lesley University and a master’s degree in fine arts from The University of Wisconsin.
His past work includes The Camper, a 1974 motorhome art installation refurbished to its original era that aims to gives wonder to a younger generation while giving an older generation a glimpse into their past; and The Office, a recreated 19th century home office installation in the abandoned Birdsell Mansion in Indiana giving visitors a glimpse into the home’s last era of occupancy. The Camper exhibited at ArtPrize, one of the country’s most-attended public art event and competition in Grand Rapids, Mich.