DIY Public Art Project: Flaming Cactus

by Lily Antflick

If you’ve been around Astor Place lately, you have probably noticed the poles and street lights lined with bright, colorful cable ties. The cable ties are linked together, forming a circle around the circumference of the poles. What is left is a spikey and vibrant post which somewhat resembles a cactus, hence the name, “The Flaming Cactus Project”. These public displays force pedestrians to stop and look around and appreciate the burst of color arranged on these previously drab and boring public objects.

Flaming Cactus was debuted at FIGMENT 2011 in the Governors Island Sculpture Garden and was later recognized by NYC’s Department of Transportation who expanded the size of the project for its “Summer Streets” program. The project is the brain-child of Animus Arts Collective, who have also created public art pieces mostly from recycled and found objects. The collectives’ multiple projects dare to create an environment which instigates a dynamic relationship between the participant and the object and between the participants themselves.

Their project entitled “1,000 Pieces” was an evolving puzzle display on Governor’s Island which encouraged pedestrians to contribute to the art by adding and readjusting the wooden puzzle pieces, after drawing personal messages on them.

The Flaming Cactus Project represents the simplicity of creating something beautiful out of everyday objects and the sense of public satisfaction which follows. As the Animus Collective explains, “We wanted to show that making art doesn’t require a lot of resources, formal education, or even money.  Art and creativity are things we’re all capable of.”

12+ Flaming Cactuses will be on display around Astor Place for the month of August.

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2 Comments to “DIY Public Art Project: Flaming Cactus”

  1. You know, reading your post about these ‘cacti’ in Astor Place, I couldn’t help think of Jim Power – aka “Mosaic Man” – who has been creating mosaic artwork on lampposts, sidwalks, curbstones, walls etc. in and around Astor Place for decades. When I first moved to NY in the 80’s, he used to worry about getting *arrested* for creating this public art, and in fact always seemed to be dodging the police. So interesting that now the city is actually supporting this other public art (which is cool, but not as cool as Jim’s mosaics IMO) and raises the question brought up in class last week about whether something state or corporate funded can really be considered DIY. To me, there was something about the fact that he *was* dodging the cops that made Jim’s work seem more gritty, dangerous, and subversive.

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