Due to the nationality of my boyfriend, we have a lot of foreign friends in Rotterdam. They are lovely, positive minded people, but I can’t keep up with the amount of times I have heard them complain about their newly adopted home town. Rotterdam is a place you have to learn to love. And one of the reasons is that its coolest place are outside of the center, scattered around the city. You’ve got to know them to find them and have a good time. Especially, I understand that dear immigrants, in the dark winter months. So here’s one more such places that will grow your love for Rotterdam: CITY ART. I discovered this 1500 square meter venue of art and music near the heart of the city.
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What is it?
City Art is both a museum-like gallery, a music venue, and a meeting place for creative minds. A hub for creativity to say the least. It is the love and passion of the lovely couple working here and living here in separate parts of the place. And the whole place is HUGE! It encompasses two large floors and an “attic”.
Most of the building is taken over by the sculptures of Chris Ripkens, the artist of the couple. He will let you walk around and see the works spread out like a permanent exhibition. On the floors, the walls, hanging from the ceilings. Nearly two decades of production, displayed in freshly painted bright rooms.
But there are also six-weekly exhibitions of other artists. City Art is meant to be a meeting point for artists and art lovers. It’s Les Deux Magots of Rotterdam-Noord; a hangout of the Rotterdam art scene.
Even more so because City Art is also a music venue, hosting bands and jazz groups on a weekly basis. It is a special place for discovering new kinds of music. And it is definitely special because you’re witnessing it in the midst of Chris Ripken’s sculptures, giving any concert a unique atmosphere.
Where is City Art?
City Art is hidden in a 1500 square meter construction under the old railway to The Hague: de Hofboogjes. The boogjes have finally been removed from the demolition list. After so many years of insecurity, the couple can now safely invest some work in the place. They have already painted the whole place brightly white and started to renovate the gallery.
You find it near the Bergweg in the neighborhood Noord. The address: Insulindestraat 248. The entrance is modest and found on the square-side. And the mosaic sculptures on that square, guess where they came from?
Everyone who has ever been to Schiekade and has seen the two mosaic figures in front of the jewelry store on the corner with the Bergweg, already knows work by Chris Ripkens. There’s also a group of fascinating figures and heads right next to Hofplein, on the other side of the railway. Or how about the fountain at Eudokiaplein in front of the large Albert Heijn store (at Bergweg)? You guessed it: Chris Ripkens.
The nice thing about these public pieces of art is that Chris produced them together with the people in the neighborhood. They are public pieces in the true sense of the word.
Mosaic sculptures are only one kind in the repertoire of Chris. What I love about his other work is that it is varied, yet recognizable. He has really explored some themes, materials, and shapes well and that makes for a coherent series of sculptures. It never got all over the place. Well, I’d say, go see it for yourself!