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Sho-Globe to pop up around town later this week

Posted: April 11, 2011 - 8:59pm

For much of the year, Juneau’s outdoor public spaces don’t see much action.

They’re often cold, wet and empty. But some of those spots are about to get a little more inviting, even if our dreary skies continue. Later this week, visiting artists will be setting up the Sho-Globe, a temporary shelter and impromptu gathering spot. The structure will be moved from place to place over the course of four days, temporarily redefining the physical and social parameters of those public spaces.

Physically, Sho-Globe is an inflatable, portable, semi-transparent structure designed by REBAR, a San Francisco-based design firm. Conceptually, it also provides a window into how communal space is used, and how changes to those areas can affect social interactions.

The structure, made of heavy, clear plastic and shaped roughly like a football, will be about 9 feet tall when inflated, and cover about 12 by 18 feet of ground. A high-powered, battery operated air blower will inflate it onsite in various locations around downtown in a matter of minutes. The air will inflate the space between two outer layers of plastic, the “skin,” not the interior space itself.

The project is one of five in progress this week around the state as part of the Alaska Design Forum’s Common Space series. In addition to Juneau, the communities are Homer, Nome, Anchorage and Fairbanks. The ADF chose nationally recognized artists from around the country to work within those communities in creating a project that explored the idea of communal space.

Coincidentally, the project was planned for one of Juneau’s most social weeks of the year — the Alaska Folk Festival, which began Monday and runs through Sunday. REBAR artists considered this factor when creating their design, and said they encourage the space’s use by folk festival musicians, dancers and other guests.

“We want people playing in there,” Alaska Design Forum board member Karen Larsen. “It’s a temporary venue for anyone who wants to come in an use it.”

Currently working out of a temporary workshop on Seward Street, REBAR’s Blaine Merker and Adam Green plan to deploy the Sho-Globe for the first time Wednesday on the eighth floor of the State Office Building patio. When they’re ready to move it, they’ll deflate it and pack it into backpacks. They encourage anyone who wants to help with this process to contact them through the project website, commonspace-ak.org.

The Sno-Globe will be popping up in different spots from Wednesday through Saturday.

To find out more, or to view location updates visit www.commonspace-ak.org.

You can also follow the group on Twitter,
@rebargroup, or visit the temporary storefront workshop at 118 Seward St. A map will be posted on the window of the Seward Street workshop to let people know where the Sho-Globe is located at any given time. The location will change and isn’t set out in advance.

“It’s a little like a treasure hunt,” Merker said. “You have to go out find it.”

• Contact reporter Amy Fletcher at 523-2283 or at amy.fletcher@juneauempire.com.

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