Atlantic City Turns to Public Arts Initiative to Attract Visitors and Residents

By Eric Schultz
Producer, State of the Arts

The first two sites of Atlantic City’s public arts initiative were unveiled last week just 10 days after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Jersey Shore. While much of the city was flooded, both installations came through the storm unscathed. Organizers decided to go ahead with the unveiling as a way bringing the community together and honoring the first responders to the hurricane. One site features an illusionistic, geometric work by California artist John Roloff. It doubles as a performance space.

The other installation is on a seven-acre lot, vacant since the Sands Hotel was demolished in 2007. Project Coordinator Lance Fung said he drew inspiration from the iconic Steel Pier.


“I came up with initial, very naive, simplistic drawing looking at the history of the Steel Pier here in Atlantic City and so the form evolved around the form of the roller coaster,” said Fung. “It’s these two mounds hollowed out of grass and in the middle of those two exhibition spaces, open air to mother nature, are three artists.”

All three are internationally-acclaimed artists — Kiki Smith and Robert Barry have roots in New Jersey. Russian-born artist Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, now based in Long Island, have created installations in 35 countries around the world but this is their first in the United States.

For Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance, the project serves a dual purpose.

“It was important not only to bring visitors because speaking really to the economics it absolutely is a tourism draw but it also is something the residents need,” said Cartmell.

Fung echoed the sentiment that project’s appeal to the community at large.

“And what I saw was a need for public meeting spaces and it was a need for green spaces and that’s good for everyone,” said Fung. “It’s good for business, it’s good for economic development, it’s good for locals, it’s good for artists.”

For more information, read the Artlantic Overview.