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Joe LaMantia

Kelly Carnahan

Last modified: Friday, January 28, 2011

ArtsWeek celebrates arts in education on rec center 'canvas'

Jan. 28, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Entering the Twin Lakes Recreation Center on Bloomington's west side, most people never look up. But in collaborative artist Joe LaMantia's eyes, the city recreation center's giant white façade is a beautiful blank canvas.

From mid-January through the end of February, that "canvas" will be filled with magnetic art created by LaMantia and students from Edgewood High School in Ellettsville. The art project, called Tag!, is a frontrunner event for Indiana University's annual ArtsWeek, a winter festival showcasing art and artists from the campus and the City of Bloomington. ArtsWeek, now in its 27th year, is coordinated by the IU Office of the Vice Provost for Research and supported by IU's Office of the President.


Students from Edgewood High School in Ellettsville worked with artist Joe LaMantia to create magnetic art. The art is being displayed at Twin Lakes Recreation Center through the end of February.

This year's ArtsWeek theme -- "ArtsTeach" -- highlights collaborations of K-12 teachers and students with IU units and area arts organizations. Tag! features designs created by about a dozen students drawn from Edgewood's 2D and 3D art classes, taught by art teachers Brian Talbert and Angela O'Malley. The students are implementing their designs by applying colored vinyl to large pieces of flexible magnetic material. When complete, the magnetic art will be attached to the front of Twin Lakes Recreation Center, arranged around the façade's central hexagonal window.

The final 6 ft. x 7 ft. designs are a mathematical compass, a double helix and a pencil. "The three designs were decided on through brainstorming with the students," LaMantia said. "Each piece is a symbolic representation of subject matter important to the students involved."

Creating the artwork has also taught the students a lot about the process of design, according to LaMantia. "This is a real design project, and the students have had to revise and retool to get things to work," he said. "It's teaching them a lot about design problems such as the use of scale and negative space."

Tag Installation

Look up next time you're at the Twin Lakes Rec Center and you'll see the work of Joe LaMantia and high school students from Edgewood.

Miah Michaelsen, the City of Bloomington's assistant economic development director for the arts, says the unusual location for the students' creations is an excellent example of the city's efforts to build community through creative partnerships.

"We're delighted to have the opportunity to work with Joe and the ArtsWeek team on a collaborative public art project," Michaelsen said. "Our ongoing efforts to bring public art to the citizens of Bloomington are most effective when we have committed partners, and for many years ArtsWeek has engaged the community in interesting and challenging ways. The Tag! project takes art out of our downtown core to a geographic area and a physical space where it's unexpected, to say the least. I look forward to the dialogue that ensues."

LaMantia says the magnetic artwork is weather-resistant and should offer a great surprise to recreation center visitors. "Imagination is what it's all about," he says. "Next time you're at the recreation center, look up!"

For more information on ArtsWeek 2011, see