Issue #193
Hotter Than Two Cats Fighting In A Wool Sock June 29, 2012

Michael Jones McKean
The Rainbow: Certain Principles of Light and Shapes Between FormsPhoto: Larry Gawel

Michael Jones McKean

Michael Jones McKean: The Rainbow: Certain Principles of Light and Shapes Between Forms
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha
Summer, 2012

Dear Omaha, I wish you were just a bit easier to reach. If you were I would be in there in a heartbeat to catch a glimpse of The Rainbow filling the skies over the Bemis Center twice a day. Artist Michael Jones McKean’s ambitious project incorporates harvested rainwater, local businesses (Lindsay Corporation and Watertronics), engineering experts and atmospheric scientists amongst others to realize his monumental project. It’s easy to get lost in the data surrounding McKean’s rainbow—six 10,500 Gallon above ground water tanks, a custom designed 60-horsepower pump supplying pressurized water to nine nozzles mounted to the 20,000 square foot roof, extensive building modifications, etc. While the science and engineering behind the project is certainly awe-inspiring, the real beauty of the project lies in the transparent bands of ephemeral color that fill the Nebraskan sky. Temporary, delicate, silent; all adjectives used to describe the rainbow, a phenomena which never fails to capture our collective imagination and gaze. (A recent double-rainbow over NYC instantly lit up the web with images of its colored arcs.) The application of these qualities to an immense logistical and experiential public art project is a major part of what gives The Rainbow its punch. There’s little doubt that McKean’s project should be considered monumental in nearly every regard, though without the bulky steel and stone machismo typical of most public art. On the whole his work refuses to occupy a single point in time or space, blurring the boundaries between the ancient and the contemporary as it rubs out familiar time scales. The Rainbow, as a symbol and project, succinctly embodies these ideas, embracing impermanence and poetry on the most monumental of scales. 

Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.

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