This Year’s “Unexpected Project” Brings Forgotten Spaces To Life Again

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)—The 2017 “Unexpected Project” is different than those in the past. It’s less about the murals and more focused on spaces and places downtown.

New York-based artist Crystal Wagner will be putting her artwork on the façade of an office and warehouse on the 300 block of Garrison Ave behind Bricktown. The Reynolds-Davis building was hit by a tornado in 1996. Two days later, it caught fire.

“When you're a painter you have the canvass, my canvass is the building,” Wagner said.

Wagner has been constructing her piece in a warehouse for almost two weeks. She and a team of volunteers are strategically placing hot air balloon fabric through vinyl coated chicken wire. It’s held onto the framework with zip ties.

“When I get on location, I start working and because it's all intuitive, everything about the building informs the piece,” Wagner explained.

The artist is known for large scale installation work. This is her first trip to the Natural State.

“During my time here, Fort Smith has been blowing my mind with how much love and support they have for the art scene,” she said.

In addition to Wagner’s piece, you’ll see a light installation in the former Landmark Sign building on 19 N. 10th Street by Circus Family. Next door to that is the work of Doze Green inside the New Theater. It was Fort Smith’s premiere entertainment venue in the 1920s, but was abandoned for decades.

“This year we have kind of a different feel and a lot of different types of interventions,” director Claire Kolberg said. “Less mural, which is what I think people expect to see when they come to the Unexpected and while we still have mural, we're also doing more indoor installations to re-activate some of our forgotten spaces in Fort Smith.”

Argentinian artist Felipe Pantone is painting a pop-up skateboard park located in a parking lot next to Pendergraft Park. It will be available for the public by Thursday (July 27) afternoon, so anyone can come skate there through the weekend.

You can find a map where all seven international artists will be working at the Unexpected pop-up shop on 17 N. 10th street. Volunteers will also have information about other events going on during the Unexpected. You can also download the free “Unexpected FS” mobile app to help you navigate through all the art displays and learn about the artists.