Pop-up Party and Public Use Space

4th ave

“Are you downtown by chance? We’re having a pop-up party at the 4th ave theater. With chalk!”

How could you receive a text like that and not reply “OMG! I’m downtown and heading your way in 5 min!!!!” If you’re me, you can’t. The lure of a pop-up party, chalk, the 4th Ave theater, and fun people made the invitation irresistible.

Five minutes after the text, my friends and I arrived and immediately grabbed some chalk and started adding our answers to questions like “what is your favorite memory at the 4th Ave theater?” and “I’d like to see it be…” (there are many things I’d like to see the 4th Ave theater be, but most of all, I want to see it become alive again).

It was so much fun to cover part of a downtown sidewalk in chalk-ey color, swapping stories about old times at the theater. If you need a refresher about the building, I wrote about it here: Fourth Avenue Theater History and Dreams.

We also wandered into the breezeway beside the theater and added some chalk art there as well (okay, not so much “art” – I drew a hopscotch game…) and did some re-envisioning of the space. The passage has recently been in the news (Hidden and horrific: Downtown Anchorage breezeway a smelly problem) and gates were installed on Thursday (although I didn’t notice them last night).

I walked through the breezeway a couple weeks before the “smelly problem” article was published and although at that time it seemed to be mostly free of litter, smells, and mystery substances, I understand why adjacent businesses (especially First National Bank, considering the drainage and foundation issues created by cleaning the passage) wanted a change. But, I wish the change could have been something besides limiting access – I like the idea of bringing “new life to Anchorage public spaces by encouraging use.

While we drew on the sidewalk, we talked about how the breezeway could be transformed into an asset instead of just closing it off. I already have a penchant for alleyways and surprise art and design details and this could be an awesome space for public art.

My vision involves ombre tiles and music that crescendos or decrescendos depending on whether you start at the lightly colored or deeply colored end. Or maybe some sort of lighting that makes you feel like you’re floating through space as you walk through. Or asking a different artist each month to just go crazy and see what happens.

What are your ideas?

Author: Gretchen Fauske

I love Anchorage. I love what it is, what it's been, and what I dream it will be. I share my adventures with DJ (my husband), my fabulous family and friends, two frenchies named Grover and Teddy, and now, all of you. If you love Anchorage too, get in touch - guest posts are welcome!