Johnny Chung Lee > Projects >
Community Splash

by Johnny Lee and Joshua Atlas

photo courtesy of Derek Wahila

At 2pm on May 6th, 2005 in Pittsburgh, PA, a paint-filled balloon is launched at an 18-story apartment building at over 80mph. The explosion of color is met with cheers and laughter from over one hundred local community members as this symbolic and cathartic event marks the beginning of a much anticipated urban renewal project. These balloons were lauched by a 25 foot tall slingshot constructed by Johnny Lee and Joshua Atlas as a public art installation to give community members an opportunity to take part in transforming the high-rise into one of the largest art monuments in the country before its scheduled demolition.

Project Mission and Description

To goal of this project was to create a massive group art experience by bringing the entire community together in participation of momentarily transforming the East Village Apartments into one of the largest art monuments in the country. To do this, we constructed a large scale slingshot on Penn Avenue that launched paint filled balloons against the east wall of the building to create an 18-story tall mosaic of splash patterns moderately in the style of Jackson Pollock, but on a tremendous scale. The nature of this project allows every former resident, city official, or community member, who wishes, to participate in the creation of this celebratory monument. Because it was an outdoor event lasting several hours, the event allowed hundreds of rotating passive observers to enjoy the excitement and spectacle of the paint explosions. This unique artistic event provided each participant with a once in a life-time opportunity and memory, as well as stimulated the community’s sense of bonding and brotherhood.

Big thanks to those who helped out with making this thing happen: John Kemble, Jeff Nicholes, Amy Hurst, Marty McGuire, Luis von Ahn, Takehito Etani, and especially Megan Fitzgerald and the East Liberty Development Incorporated, whom without, this would have never been possible.

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Press Coverage

from AAA periodical
Pittsburgh-Post Gazette
(to be added)

Pittsburgh Courrier
(to be added)

WPXI Coverage
(to be added)