CANTON From an abandoned house to an award-winning outdoor theater, Matthew L. Mazzottas Open House project in York, Ala., is not only treasured by the community, but it has gained respect and appreciation by some of the worlds renowned architects.
Mr. Mazzotta, a Canton native, began the community art project in 2011. It was mostly funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. When their budgeted money ran out, he started a crowd-funding campaign for the project, which drew support from 50 Canton residents, he said.
The masterpiece he ended up with, Open House, is the remains of an abandoned house which he transformed into a performance space with seating. The finished project looks like a small, red house, but it unfolds into rows of benches for an audience.
Mr. Mazzottas Open House has won several awards since its completion, including the Great Places Award for place design from the Environmental Design Research Association, the Architects Newspapers Best of Design Award, the International Award of Design Excellence from Azure Magazine and the Individual Artist Award from the Santo Foundation.
But the most prestigious award hes won so far is the jurys choice Architizer A+ Award for Architecture and Urban Transformation.
Mr. Mazzota applied for the award in January and learned in April that he had won it. Hell be honored at the Architizer A+ Awards Gala on Thursday at Highline Stages in New York City.
This is a very prestigious and private gala in New York City, Mr. Mazzotta said. This award had applicants from over 100 different countries.
Mr. Mazzotta said the jury that selected his project included famous architects such as Elizabeth Diller of Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, New York City, and Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design for New Yorks Museum of Modern Art.
When I started, I just wanted to do something with the community, Mr. Mazzota said. I mean, I thought the project was awesome, but I had no idea it would win an award like this one.
Mr. Mazzota said most winners of the Architizer A+ Awards are popular architects or architect firms.
Im an artist and this is an architecture award, he said. Its putting me on the map. This was not in my view, but its happened and its kind of amazing.
Mr. Mazzota said that, since finishing the project, hes been interviewed by national news networks and the Huffington Post and featured in several prominent U.S. magazines.
He said the publicity has shone a limelight on the small town of 2,000 where Open House was built.
Its essence resonated across the world, he said. An abandoned or broken house can be transformed into a public good, and then theres a celebration that follows.
Mr. Mazzota said one of his friends from Canton, Cory H. Vinyard, is a carpenter who helped him with the Open House project and often travels with Mr. Mazzota to help with his art projects, which sometimes take him overseas.
Mr. Mazzota said hes participated in several talks and symposiums since completing Open House.
Hell speak during the Open Engagement 2014 at the Queens Museum Sunday, May 18, and will be part of panel discussions during the Americans for the Arts Conference in Nashville, Tenn., on June 13 and 14.
Hes now in the preliminary stages of two more public art projects, one in Albuquerque, N.M., and one in Cambridge, Mass.
Video of Mr. Mazzotas Open House project can be seen at: http://vimeo.com/70386286.