Paula Crown's Have a Ball in Design District Is Whimsical Fun

Have a Ball at Transposition by Paula Crown.EXPAND
Have a Ball at Transposition by Paula Crown.
Photo by Robin Hill

All of our actions, whether meaningful or banal, have consequences. Artist, entrepreneur, and Chicago native Paula Crown is interested in the physical manifestations of those actions. This time, she has injected a sense of childhood whimsy into her work, with Have a Ball, a subtle nod to Miami's low-key summer scene in the Design District.

The interactive outdoor exhibit features hundreds of colorful balls in a leveled-out lot on the corner of NE 39th Street and First Avenue. This is the latest addition to Crown's Transposition — an oversize wood sculpture made from reclaimed materials. The project launched last Saturday with an event catering to locals eager to escape the humidity with some art-fueled recreation. 

For Crown, it's the latest endeavor in a blossoming midlife art career after successful stints in real estate and investment banking. She currently serves on the board of the Museum of Modern Art, where she first kindled a creative sensibility. A handful of years ago, she decided to return to school and, in 2012, graduated with a degree in painting and drawing from the School at the Art Institute of Chicago. Since then, she's been steadily working from a distinct vantage point: an artist with a long history behind the scenes. 

"I sit in a unique position,” she told the Wall Street Journal earlier in the year. “I try to think about how I can bring them together. I have the language to connect, but I do feel more comfortable in an artist's studio rather than in a gallery.”

Though her work has come to creative fruition later in life, Crown has made full use of new and emerging media in her work, including 3D imaging and scanning technologies to explicate the consequences of human action on the immediate environment. 

Have a Ball at Transposition by Paula Crown.
Have a Ball at Transposition by Paula Crown.
Photo by Robin Hill

As a whole, Have a Ball at Transposition is a contemporary mixture of artistic metaphors. It's Felix Gonzalez Torres' Portrait of Ross meets Robert Smithson's Earthworks but with a much more accessible feel. The bright pink, yellow, and green balls of varying sizes put an exclamation point on an otherwise unassumingly jagged installation. They not only brighten the space but also connect the work to its physical and cultural surroundings.

As Miami's deep summer heat simmers and cracks sidewalks, the town can feel almost barren. That sense is especially heightened around the revamped Design District, an area dependent on transient seasonal crowds for fast cash. Yet plopped in the middle of the neighborhood, Crown's Have a Ball echoes a local festive charm in an otherwise stark setting. 

If you're looking for a respite from window shopping, meander through Have a Ball at Transposition, on display throughout the summer.  

Corrections: We previously stated that Crown was an Upper East Side socialite, however, she's a Chicago native. She also still currently serves on the board of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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