Message in 5,500 Bottles

If you’re driving north on Sheridan, past the NU campus, you can catch The Nereid Beckon if you look on the lake side of the road. It’s the current public art installation there on the lawn of the Grosse Point Lighthouse and the Evanston Art Center. Artist Matt Dehaemers constructed five boat-shaped objects from empty plastic wine bottles. The boats seems to float on the green space much like they would on Lake Michigan, which is just down the hill behind the lighthouse.

The majority of the bottles contain messages and drawings from diverse members of the community, from preschoolers to customers of the Paper Source on Central St.

Maybe like me they’d be tempted to hit the audience over the head with notes like Don’t throw your crap in the water!, but these polite writers tell their feelings about the lake as a thing of beauty, shared resource, and the treacherous captor of shipwrecks it once was.

Bottles, wood, plastic tubing, rivets.

Dehaemers is a Kansas City artist who often uses basic stuff to make organic representations, like foam puzzle pieces colored with permanent marker to make the image of a brain with Alzheimer’s, or hundreds of black combs in a mosaic that documents 40 years of side-by-side work of two barbers. His interactive works create a meaningful meeting between subject and audience where they might never have, such as the lake and its users.  In Omaha, Dehaemers used chalk to write a long narrative at the scene of the 1919 mob hanging of Will Brown in Omaha.

The greenhouse effect, inside with LED lights.

The installation at night.


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