The Interlink parking garage will soon receive a Technicolor makeover, thanks to Rosario Marquardt and Roberto Behar, a husband and wife architectural design team from Miami.
Earlier this month the Rhode Island Council on the Arts announced that the pair had beat out more than 100 artists that submitted proposals for the new Warwick landmark. A panel chose Marquardt and Behar’s design of illuminated, rainbow ribbons, but their idea has since received mixed reviews. Some are afraid that the multicolor display will detract from the historic charm of the area, and others say perhaps a slightly different design would have been more appropriate.
But Behar and Marquardt, who have been working together since they were teenagers in Argentina, said they carefully thought about their design for the Interlink. When they heard about the project through a national call to artists, they hopped a flight to Boston to visit Warwick. Behar said they spent a full day outside of the Interlink, watching the people and cars come and go. They even stayed there past dark, taking notes on what they thought the area could use – color and illumination.
Behar said the feeling of the Interlink building is “monotonous” and slightly morose, two adjectives he said were in direct contrast to the people he met in Rhode Island.
“We didn’t find the people in Rhode Island sad or monotonous,” said Behar. “It’s remarkable how friendly the people are.”
In addition to the people, they also considered the place itself. Behar said that when people visit Miami, many people remark that it is a very colorful city. Behar said it’s not the structures that are colorful (many, he said, are white); it’s the landscape – the ocean, the flowers, the sunny skies. In Rhode Island, when the colder seasons get gray and rainy, the structures must provide color, which is why Behar and Marquardt picked such a vibrant design.
Behar and Marquardt said they drew their inspiration for the colors from the old homes on the East Side of Providence, many of which are painted hues of reds, yellows, blues and greens.
“In Providence, the colors are striking and spectacular,” said Behar.
Behar and Marquardt said they wanted to create something that made a lasting impression, since, for many, it will be the last thing they see before departing from the Ocean State.
Initially, the pair’s trademark slogan of “All Together Now” was to be included in their Interlink installation, an idea that was scrapped by the panel that chose the final design. Behar and Marquardt said the slogan is fitting for Rhode Island, though, in that the state is a melting pot of different people and cultures. They said the various colored ribbons represent how many individual things can join to become one beautiful whole.
In addition to having a deeper meaning, Marquardt said the installation will also be highly functional, and serve as an eye-catching reminder to tourists for where to return their rental cars.
Marquardt said the goal of their art is to make places more “livable,” and to be a “little grain of sand to make the world a better place.”
Behar and Marquardt, who solely work on public art installations and not privately commissioned pieces, said they only choose to submit proposals to areas they have a connection to. Both had formerly lived in the Boston area, and were quite familiar with Providence and the surrounding suburbs.
Typically, their commissions for art installations range from $200,000 to $1 million. They will receive $270,000 for the Warwick project, which they plan to begin in the spring and complete in the summer.
Though they are based in the Miami area, many of the pair’s work is scattered throughout the country, and can be seen in cities like Austin, Phoenix, Madison, Denver and Seattle.
Behar and Marquardt have known each other since they were children, though Behar initially came to the United States in the 1980s alone. Marquardt followed soon after, and the pair eventually relocated to Florida to teach at the University of Miami.
Behar jokes that they have been able to “survive” both a marriage and a professional partnership.
“Our life is our work and our work is our life,” he said. “We see our projects as our kids.”
The pair said they are extremely excited about working on the Interlink project, and are grateful for the opportunity to share their art with the local community.
More information on Marquardt and Behar’s work can be found at www.rr-studios.com.