Color Forest

January 22, 2019 5:37 pm

Cruise down the Charlotte Rail Trail, and along with the trains, runners and dogs, you’ll soon find an array of unusual art installations. There are irresistible kinetic sculptures that invite you to sit, a light show, and a wall full of dreams.

Every piece has a story and an artist behind it. Ivan Toth Depeña is one of those artists.

A big white dog is asleep in front of a whirring box fan, set on a floor that is remarkably clean for a working studio. Heavy tools are strewn around a workbench in the center of the room, standing until they are picked up for the next installation in-progress.

Ivan has lived in Rome, Boston, New York and San Francisco, but it was the McColl Center that brought him to Charlotte. The city’s offerings and opportunities have kept him here. He talks about how he is invested in South End as a place to live and wants to make it “new,” and filled with things that have spirit and soul to them.

Right now, he is describing “Color Forest,” an upcoming art installation that will sit near the Bland Street Station on the Rail Trail. It’s a series of tall cylinders placed on either side of the path, painted in vibrant colors reminiscent of trees. They’re tilted and straight, irregularly placed and sprouting out of the earth, just like timber in a wild forest.

“I was inspired by movement and time. Everyone is always moving on the Rail Trail. Whether they’re biking, running, taking the train, there is always transitional movement and it inspired this piece,” Ivan explains.

“Depending on how people are traveling, this piece will offer a different experience. If you’re walking: it’s a slo-mo cinematic, but if you’re on the light rail: it’s 24 frames per second—full speed.”

It’s these kinds of unexpected interruptions, and little moments of color and shape, that transform the Rail Trail from just a walkway into something more.

More than a year in the making, the Color Forest installation was dreamed up by Ivan in collaboration with architect and Rail Trail supporter David Furman, and underwritten by the South End program of Charlotte Center City Partners. The project has been a true South End collaboration, with input from the property owners on both sides of the tracks, and fabrication and installation managed by South End company ACSM Inc, on Distribution Street.

“I hope people will engage, wonder, walk around it, look at it from different perspectives,” Ivan says. “That the forest makes people think.”

No matter your speed.

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