Montclair, N.J. – Step outside of your routine and connect at “Point of Action”, a new, interactive art installation created by Montclair resident Nina Cooke John. Originally on view in New York’s Flatiron district’s public plaza, the illuminated work is ready for you to view and explore by night and by day, now through May 6th, in Montclair Center’s Crane Park.
“My hope is that Point of Action makes people think about how we connect to the people we see every day so that we can move forward together,” said Nina Cooke John, founder and principal of Studio Cooke John.
Cooke John wanted to bring Point of Acton to her hometown. At the beginning of this process, Cooke John considered having the nine sculptures in different locations throughout Montclair, but logistically the idea proved difficult. The sculptures light up at night and the batteries that power those lights need to be changed daily. Ultimately, Crane Park was chosen as the ideal location — it had enough space to accommodate all the sculptures together and was centrally located so Montclair Center BID could manage and maintain Point of Action. The installation, surrounding an existing sculpture in the park, makes an impact while allowing the space needed for socially-distanced engagement and interaction.
Point of Action in Montclair was installed differently than it had been in New York City, because the sculptures are able to be submerged right into the ground instead of being placed on pavement. Montclair’s Charlie Spademan of Spademan Fabrication had the challenge getting the installation anchored. The end result ia all the sculptures appear as if they’re sprouting from the ground, like trees.
Point of Action offers multiple opportunities for connection; Cooke John has seen people interact with the installation in a lot of different ways.
“In the city, there were people skateboarding through it. One woman in roller skates was dancing in it,” says Cooke John. “I did see two little boys, their mom was with them, and they had climbed all the way to the top. That’s public art. People are going to do whatever they want, but especially kids. Anyone can come here, sit on it, engage with it. When the lights come on at night, it really draws people in.”
On Thursday, at Point of Action’s official opening, kids were already running through and around the installation and playing with the sculptures’ strings like they were playing instruments.
Montclair + Art = Connection
Bringing Point of Action to Crane Park is another way Montclair Center BID has continued its mission to bring more art to Montclair, says Jason Gleason, executive director of Montclair Center BID.
In 2019, Montclair Center BID applied for and was awarded a $25,000 Transformation Grant from the Main Street New Jersey Program. Then the BID matched the $25,000 to fund the $50,000 Love Montclair mural project. The resulting murals that have brought vibrant new life to Montclair buildings, was a first project for Art Connects, a branch of the BID’s visual improvements committee that focuses on enhancing public arts.
In November 2020, Gleason was connected with Cooke John and Spademan and talks began about how to bring this internationally-acclaimed installation home to Montclair.
“The artist and the fabricator wanted it to come home. They wanted it to live at the place where they reside, where it’s part of their culture and legacy here. From the moment it was pitched to me, it was such a no-brainer on every level. It was basically like, ‘let’s roll up our sleeves and do anything we can do to get this done,'” says Gleason, who adds that Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis immediately shared his enthusiasm for the project.
“Peter saw the vision right away and was really instrumental in helping us get this project off the ground,” says Gleason, who also thanks the mayor and council, the town manager and engineer, as well as his staff who all came together to make Point of Action a reality.
Gleason says the BID would love to continue venturing into public art and placemaking and space and design. He also wants the public to get a chance to experience Point of Action while it’s here.
“Come down. Don’t have any expectations, just have a sense of wonder. Be a child,” says Gleason, adding that when he was working on the installation he got to see how Point of Action creates moments of connection and community.
“There was a grandmother and her grandchild on two separate sculptures and there was this equalizing moment, when they were both experiencing the same sense of wonder,” says Gleason.
Montclair Center BID encourages visitors to use #PointOfAction on Twitter and Instagram to share images of the installation.