Merchandise Mart’s facade to become a giant canvas for local artists

CHICAGO — The Merchandise Mart’s 2.6-acre facade will soon transform into the world’s largest permanent projection canvas, dubbed "Art on theMART."

“This new installation will be a game changer,” said Mark Kelly, DCASE.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared 2017 to be the “Year of Public Art,” and the effort culminates in the largest plan of them all. Art on the MART is part of City Hall’s idea to attract 55 million tourists annually and turn the riverfront into attraction to match the Lake Michigan shoreline.

“The idea was to take what we were doing on the Riverwalk south bank and make the north bank come alive and make it one vision of the city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

The owners of the four million square front Art Deco building - once the biggest in the world- selected two design firms for the privately funded installation. One has made similar displays at the Sydney Opera House and at St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Large, temporary projections have been done around the world, but the permanency and size of Art on theMART will provide a canvas for art to evolve and thrive,” said Myron Maurer, Chief Operating Officer, theMART.

The city hopes to capture local talent in the grandest way. Beyond size and scope, the wall will be given over totally to art projection with no branding, no sponsorships or messaging allowed. A digital platform will be available for artist submissions. Artist Tyrue Jones is among the first to be featured.

“I’m from Chicago. I love Chicago. I’ve always loved Chicago. Chicago is my heart, the neighborhoods, the people. Everything is connected,” Jones said.