The Dublin Arts Council is launching a public art and wellness challenge Sept. 26 called “Connect” in an effort to get Dubliners more in touch with art, nature, and each other, albeit in a socially distant way. The initiative is meant to breathe new life into existing installations called “Riverboxes,” which were created to encourage exploration in Dublin’s parks.
“Sometimes you experience a collection, and then over time, it becomes part of the landscape or part of the scenery. And so we’re asking people to look at the collection anew and then see how these artists are responding to the original collection,” said David Guion, executive director of the council.
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The Riverboxes, first installed in 2007, are an artistic take on geocaching, which involves locating hidden containers via GPS coordinates and cryptic hints. Riverboxes are designed by artists and contain guest logs, unique ink stamps, and historical or environmental information about the area. They are hidden in parks around Dublin near the Scioto River and its tributaries, with hints and information available for seekers on the DAC website.
The new “Connect” program tasked 16 Ohio artists with responding to the original works and adding their own pieces in the same location. Challenge booklets with clues to the locations of the artwork will be placed in “ARTboxes” around the parks, similar to the little libraries located throughout the community. The booklets will also provide prompts for reflection and engagement with nature and the art.
“You lose yourself in nature. It’s so easy to do when you’re out by the river. It’s just everything looks totally different,” said Guion. “And so we’re hoping that people have that sense of discovery and have that moment in nature where they’re transformed.”
“Connect” was conceived as a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Dublin Arts Council’s first project, a statue of the Native American Chief Leatherlips.
“We realized we couldn’t gather together, so we wanted to do some sort of an event where people could get away from their computer screen and their phone and really experience a tactile experience with public art,” Guion said.
Community organizations, such as counseling centers and fire departments, have also contributed to the challenge booklets to encourage safety and wellness during stressful times. Those who complete the challenge booklet can bring it to the Dublin Arts Council and receive a mystery prize.