Taking chances, taking action

A curator’s statement about Walk On By and the Corridor Project.

The I-4 Corridor between Tampa and Orlando has become known as the deciding vote in national elections, due to the high number of Central Florida voters on the fence about where they stand. The corridor has been described as a representation of the most typical demographic in America. But why are so many people in our area undecided? A knee-jerk response is that many are uninformed or apathetic. Another possibility is that the possibilities given to us are often tried, but often don't feel so true, or are just uninteresting.

Before I say anything else, I would like to note that this discussion is not leading into political commentary, nor is this project explicitly concerned with politics.

For the past few years I've discussed the idea of putting together a contemporary art museum without a fixed location, a series of site-specific works located in pop-up facilities using empty storefronts or public spaces. I hear about museums not being able to bring in the shows they want because of the expense. Maybe expensive buildings and high overhead are out of step with a struggling economy; certainly the bureaucracy of public art can be frustrating to the viewer and the artist.

I've spent years of my life in other cities and countries. The thing that makes most cities interesting is great planning combined with the barely planned – spontaneity, mistakes, surprises and real grass-roots efforts. Orlando, you must take more chances. It's a family place? Well, guess what: There are adults in most families. Please, no more lizard art. We need to quit being the no-hair-out-of-place, offend-no-one community. Who wants to hang out with people who are too eager to please? I love Orlando, but I want us to quit dumbing down.

I decided to take action in the form of the Corridor Project. The Corridor Project's first show, Walk On By, was set up in the middle of the night on heavily trafficked streets. On your way to work, you might see a sculpture, installation or mural, or a performance by a church choir, some schoolkids or Phil Longo; you might zip past something akin to the 1990s Flaming Lips tape experiments and think, "What the hell is going on?" Or you may be texting, eating breakfast or doing something that distracts you, and not see anything. But I hope you do.

A conceptual artist, freelance writer, musician, promoter and currently director of programming at Urban ReThink: Pat Greene is a project addict, interested in considering the bigger picture versus specializing in one specific area. He has shown his art at University of Florida, Rollins' Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Maitland Art Center, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Neb., and many other places. He has lectured at the Cornell, Bemis Center and UCF, and participated as an associate artist at Atlantic Center for the Arts in 2001, working with art critic Richard Kostelanetz. In 2004 he ran for mayor of Orlando as a write-in candidate; his slogan was "I don't want to talk about it." He is talking about it now. He has big dreams for Orlando.