devoted to the documentation of their collaborative, site-specific,
temporary and evolving public art project Seventeen Hundred
It all began on
a late Friday afternoon in Dallas, Texas, in March of 2012
with the debris-clearing and mowing of a large vacant city
block in preparation for a second day of tractor-tilling and
prepping of the soil for planting. Finally, in advance of
an obliging Texas four-inch rainstorm, over seventeen hundred
seeds were individually planted in the newly created field
by an eight-member crew in traditional farm crop rows.
Over the ensuing
three and a half months, the efforts by our farm team produced
an enormous crop of single-stemmed sunflowers with ten-inch
flower heads in a blighted city block that had been vacant
for over two decades. From the sprouting of over 1,700 seeds
to the peak of blooms in mid-May to the formation of large
seed heads in June and finally to the death of the crop in
the field, visitors were able to experience nature's many
transcendental stages of growth.
Located in the
busy heart of the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas off a well-traveled
car and pedestrian street, the public art project remained
on view since field preparation began March 16th, offering
up a daily tableau of the farmer's life of land tilling and
seed planting, weeding and watering, and finally harvesting
The activity in
the empty lot, a form of artistic intervention or farming
as street theater, drew many area neighbors, passersby, and
local business folk curious about what was going on in their
community." You don't often see a tractor tilling soil
in the city," the very first visitor declared. Others
shared their knowledge of the history of the land, even family
photographs, or memories of flower gardens in their native
Mexico. With our farm crew in the field, laughs and stories
were swapped over as many tacos and beer during months of
crop cultivation. All were part of the process.
Since the death
of the field last year, seeds from the project have been distributed
by the thousands to area residents and business owners as
well as to friends, artists, curators and interested others
in the United States, Europe, Asia and South America. The
first 1700 Seeds Workshop, sponsored by the Brazilian
government, was held this past summer in the Rocinha favela
community in Rio de Janeiro at the Biblioteca da Rocinha for
area school kids and favela residents.
1700 Seeds Installation/Maintenance
Juan Cano Chanito
Seeds was generously underwritten by Courtney Rainwater. Land
provided by Rick Garza, Bishop/Davis LLC. Water provided by
Juan Pablo Segura of Familia Auto Sales. Farming consultation
provided by Mulcahy Farms. Graphic design by Lily Smith-Kirkley.
Planting blueprint by landscape designer Kelley Murry.
is a visual artist and Cynthia Mulcahy is an independent curator,
visual artist and cultural producer. Together they form an
activist Dallas-based collaborative art practice that addresses
social, political and environmental issues and places emphasis
on the transformative experience of nature.
photographs and works on paper have been exhibited throughout
Texas and his work has been reviewed in The Dallas Morning
News, The Fort Worth Star Telegam, ARTnews Magazine and online
arts journal Glasstire. Robert's work can be found in the
public collections of American Airlines and many interesting
public art projects include Square Dance: A Community Project,
co-curated with Leila Grothe, which proposed art as social
practice in the form of an outdoor seasonal dance at Dallas'
Trinity River Audubon Center in 2011 and was supported in
part by of an Idea Fund Grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation
for The Visual Arts. Cynthia's recent curated exhibitions
include Engines of War in New York City in 2013 and XXI: Conflicts
in a New Century at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center in Dallas
in 2011, both examining the subject of war. Cynthia's exhibitions
and public art projects have been reviewed in The Dallas Morning
News, The New York Times, The New Yorker and New York Magazine.