I am an outdoor artist and a sculptor. I also work at the mall. Over the years, I have had to look at the same landscape over and over, day after day.
I’ve come up with some ideas to make your shopping experience more interesting. Perhaps these ideas could be applied to your home or garden as well?
Let’s start with the formula for a successful mall and then apply that to some of my art projects that could be done in your own landscape.
I love going to the mall. I love walking through the open spaces and looking at the art, and I love the mix of people. I’ve been doing that since I was a teenager in Southern California, where malls were still new and disorienting places.
I know what you’re thinking: do we really need another blog about malls? Yes, yes we do. Here’s why:
The kind of artwork that’s appropriate for a mall is very different from the kind of artwork that’s appropriate for an art museum or gallery. Outdoor sculpture at the mall has to be more like video games or carousels than traditional fine art; it has to be designed not just to show off the artist’s skill but to surprise and delight you. It has to be fun.
Malls are changing, too. When they first appeared they were mocked as a symbol of consumerism run amok, but now they’re showing up in cities around the world as a new form of public space. What happens when your local mall becomes part of your community? How does it change what you think of as public art?
I’m working on some ideas for my own mall-based art project, and I’ll be writing about that here as well as taking photos at malls
I want the mall to be a place you want to come to. It’s not just a place of commerce. It’s a place where people can experience art and nature. People will visit the mall because they know it is beautiful there.
If I were to design an outdoor sculpture, it would have these elements:
1) It should be visually interesting in its own right. The exhibit shouldn’t need a description to be appreciated; if it needs a description, then it isn’t appealing enough on its own.
2) It should be obvious that there is an artist behind it who cares about what they are doing. The care with which the work is made should show through.
3) It should be interactive in some way; ideally you could touch or play with it in some way.
4) Ideally, it would make you think about things from a new angle or challenge your assumptions about something.
5) Ideally, it would be funny or surprising somehow, or otherwise unexpected in some way.”
I think that the mall is a very special place. It is what we get when we take away everything that makes cities special. So it is, by definition, a kind of anti-city. The mall has no history, no unique architecture, and nothing to do. It is just a bunch of stores in the middle of nowhere.
The mall changes your experience of art. A work of art that can only be seen inside a museum or an office building seems to have lost something; it has been deprived of half its audience. But if you are in a mall, the most interesting and important thing about the work of art is that it is in a mall.
The best outdoor sculpture I have ever seen was on a shopping street in Osaka, Japan. It was a life-size bronze manhole cover decorated with dozens of tiny sculptures: people and animals and trees and fish and houses and cars and mountains and city scenes. It took me several minutes to realize that I was looking at every possible aspect of human life compressed into one small object. I had never thought before about how many different kinds of things there are; I had always taken them for granted.*
I think that most good art has this power: it makes you see the world differently after you have
The mall exterior is a great place to display art. The walls are already built and paid for, and the mall managers want to attract customers. They want high-impact stuff that will draw people through the doors.
Tall thin vertical art, especially pieces with some movement, do very well here. The opportunities are limited by what is allowed by local ordinances, but there are still a lot of options. Here are some ideas I’ve had or seen in action:
1. A tall thin pole with colored flags on top
2. A set of rotating vertical blades that can be lit from within or have reflective surfaces
3. A long bar of light with a lighted sign at the end that says “mall”. The bar could be pre-programmed to slowly rotate, or it could be controlled remotely from inside the mall using a light sensor at the base of the pole. At night it would be barely visible from outside, but inside it would be drawing attention to itself constantly, as if it were on a slow rotation cycle.
4. A long thin pole (with or without blades) topped by an illuminated sphere shape that slowly rotates like a giant bubble on a string
5. A vertical pole with several spheres turning on different axes at different
There is a whole new world of mall art out there!
While you are browsing our site, you’ll see that there is much more to mall art then the big brands. We have included many examples of local and regional mall artists, as well as some from around the world.
We are proud to say that we have also been in business for over 20 years. During that time we’ve built up a large selection of affordable art for all your shopping needs. If you can’t find it on our site, chances are we can find it for you.