Running Fruit Ladders is a large, roving public art installation that celebrates small farms in the Oregon/Washington Columbia River Gorge. John Maher is the artist behind the project and hopes to engage ordinary people in art while bringing attention to the value of family farms and locally grown food.
Dozens of brightly painted wooden fruit ladders are being temporarily installed in half-mile stretches along major highways in the Columbia River Gorge. The utilitarian objects turned into art provide an unexpected sight as car-bound travellers speed past them. The outdoor installation is complimented by an art show called "Running Fruit Ladders - The Inside Edition.” Shown in local galleries and museums, the exhibition strengthens the intent of Maher’s message with a collaborative showing of art featuring family farms and locally grown foods themes.
Implications - Because a very small percentage of the general population ever visits an art gallery, artists are limited in their ability to use art as a socially relevant messaging tool. Free-to-see, impossible to avoid public art installations can engage communities in thought and discussion about local concerns as well as concerns that have global inferences. Businesses can similarly engage consumers with roving art that brings attention to causes, goods and services that would otherwise be unknown to them.