What to do tonight: A giant bubble is a unique hangout

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All this talk about thinking outside the box. Tonight, the creative people in Braddock will be thinking inside the bubble.

It's the one-night appearance of Spacebuster, a giant translucent plastic bubble in which you can hang out.

The brainchild of Stephen Zacks, Spacebuster is "an art intervention and a mobile community gathering space" traveling between Mr. Zacks' home in North Brooklyn, N.Y., and his native Flint, Mich.

"A couple of years ago, I was working on a book about the re-emergence of New York City after the 1970s fiscal crisis, when the city was regarded as ruins that were being discarded," said Mr. Zacks, 40, who serves as producer, project director and driver of the truck bringing Spacebuster to Braddock.

"But the New York neighborhood of Soho was already in the middle of an artistic revival," he said. "There was a time when public art was thought of as a statue of a historical figure on a horse or something like that. Then, in the wake of this period of crisis, young people began moving into the cities, especially New York, and engaging in the public space."

One artist, for example, took an abandoned building and cut it in half, exposing its inner structure to view. The result, Mr. Zacks said, was striking and inspiring.

Mr. Zacks' research for his book led him to into conversations with artists and sparked him to create Spacebuster, an interactive artwork of his own.

Designed in 2009, Spacebuster is presented by the Flint Public Art Project, funded in part by a National Endowment for the Arts Art Place grant.

"The project is a Flint-based project, but we connect with cultural producers in cities with a similar history, such as Braddock, Toledo, Cleveland and Buffalo," Mr. Zacks said. "We collaborate and build a larger regional art project that connects, we hope, to the global marketplace."

The 40-foot-long inflatable room is hooked up to the back of an old ice cream truck with "Spacebuster" painted on its side. Mr. Zacks and his crew set it up in a run-down urban area and people go inside to experience "a space within a space." Visitors enter through the truck and go into the bubble.

Braddock became a stop on the tour at the suggestion of one of Mr. Zacks' colleagues, who had photographed the city as part of a Rust Belt series.

Jeb Feldman, 38, a Braddock resident involved with a number of community revitalization projects, has been one of the local contacts for tonight's translucent experience.

"It's a free, family-friendly event," Mr. Feldman said.

And what would being in a bubble be without music and food?

"We're going to have barbecue from Union Pig and Chicken, and we've got a couple DJs playing and we'll be projecting some movies on the side. People can dance or just hang out in the bubble," Mr. Feldman said.

"I haven't seen it in action, but my understanding is that it's meant to be an unconventional, interesting space. We're just sort of going to put it out there and light it up and see what happens. A giant social space, a tailgating thing."

I didn't mean to burst his ... optimistic outlook, but I had to ask Mr. Feldman what they would do if too many turned out and the bubble was filled to the point of popping.

"I don't know how many people to expect, but it's pretty large," he said. "And, it is Braddock. We rarely see thousands of people for anything.

"I personally don't envision seeing it as a problem. It would be a good problem to have. We'll figure it out. If they can make it work in New York City, I'm sure we can make it work in Braddock."

Spacebuster, presented in partnership with Unsmoke Artspace and Braddock Redux, will be set up in the 600 block of Braddock Avenue from 7 to 10 p.m.

Check it out!

Get a preview of tonight's event!

The Spacebuster: http://www.raumlabor.net/?p=1799

If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456.

artarchitecture - neigh_east

This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To subscribe, go to https://ssl.post-gazette.com/circ/startPressPrint.asp?option=7DA


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