Traditional town centers are the urban counterpart of the rural imaginary, prevalent, as a rule, in representations of Puerto Rican identity. The transformation of a rural economy into an industrial one after the 1950s, favored other settlement forms, particularly suburban developments spurred by the potential of the automobile. At present, urban centers compete with shopping mega-structures. Having experienced substantial population losses in the last decades, they are now reduced to mere service centers.
The Project for the Revitalization of Traditional Urban Centers of the Department of Urbanism, promotes the qualitative regeneration of public space as the first step of a resettlement strategy. This initiative has offered artists a vast stock of public spaces and buildings, as a means of adding art to the heart of island towns. Such works should celebrate the characteristics of each town without falling prey to nostalgia or a false reconciliation with populist expressions. The selected works evidence a vast array of formats and themes, that range from the praise of natural landscape to bolder visions, committed to the future of these strongholds of everyday life in Puerto Rico.
Artist: Eric Schroeder Vivas
Title: La hiedra: una enredadera de hierro forjado ( Ivy: a forged-iron creeper )
Site: New Victoria Theater and Cultural Center
Dimensions: 160 linear ft. x 6 ft.6 in. high
Materials: Corten forged iron
The common ivy ( Picus Pumila ), the covering mantle of some dwellings in towns and suburban developments, is the leitmotif and inspiration of this work by Eric Schroeder. This corten-steel trellis fits into a system of brick-covered pillars, simulating a protective hedge in front of the facilities of the New Victoria Theater and Cultural Center in Cabo Rojo. These facilities are being remodeled under the capital improvements program of the municipality.
The piece transforms the imaginary of the beloved climber into a pattern of artificial vegetation that will envelop a central street in Cabo Rojo. A corroded skin doubles as a conservation strategy and an approximation to the natural state of ivy. This post-industrial vegetation suggests a self-referential game that stands as a paradoxical and poetic lace of broken leaves, protecting the heart of the city.