Co-curators of Sculpture PARK(ing)
“So typically towards the end of the day Verda and I chat art.”
Liliana Lewicka, O+A’s Office Manager, sits next to Verda Alexander, one of O+A’s Founders. That physical proximity combined with a distinct proximity of interests has made the company’s latest open plan configuration a fruitful merging of minds. A daily art chat can’t help but steer O+A’s community-based initiatives in a creative direction—which is how Sculpture PARK(ing) came to be. As Liliana explains it: “I remember one day Verda said, ‘I have this idea for PARK(ing) Day.’ And she told me the concept and I thought it was so cool.”
What was the concept? “My initial idea wasn’t so much a sculpture park,” Verda says, “as a reflection of the Moving Sale thrift store across the street, more like a sidewalk sale where everything would just be thrown out on a towel on the ground. But then thinking about the concept for PARK(ing) Day, this idea of creating parklets or green oases throughout the city I thought maybe it would be interesting to take it even further, elevate it more and play with the idea of what a sculpture park is.”
Thus did Verda and Liliana become the co-curators of Sculpture PARK(ing).
The aesthetic origins of the project range from Jon Rubin’s echo “restaurant” The Horse to the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi, which elevates and celebrates imperfection. But the spirit of the park is grounded in the dust and detritus of the Moving Sale thrift store.
“I’m a thrifter,” Liliana says, “I’ve been thrifting all my life, so I love rummaging. It’s definitely about finding an object that’s unique and one of a kind.”
“I get done in,” Verda says. “I used to go into Moving Sale more regularly when our office was right next door, but I usually just walk past now. He’s always got interesting things on the sidewalk.”
Liliana sees a link between Moving Sale’s gritty crush of inventory and the zen underpinnings of the Sculpture PARK(ing) project: “Even stepping into Moving Sale is a Wabi Sabi experience very generally speaking in that these objects are discarded and this is a store that doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic. So to find beauty in that space—I thought that was interesting. Everything just worked.”
Even so, finding beauty in discarded objects requires a mental reset for people who spend their workdays specifying high-end finishes and state-of-the-art furniture. “They’re designers,” Verda says, “so they’re used to having a problem-solving focus. The first thing they asked about this project was: ‘Is there a concept? Should we stick to a theme, should we stick to a type?’ There were a lot of questions.”
But the mental reset, Verda says, is as much a part of the exercise as its thrift store provenance. “I was talking with one of our designers about how much she was enjoying the ‘hands on’ aspect of working with her piece. She’s painting blocks and putting them all together in a composition. And I think just that relief of doing something different from your day-to-day, not at a computer screen and having to solve problems, these crazy, crafty problems—it puts everybody in a different frame of mind. At O+A we really embrace that and try to give our designers some breathing space around creativity.”