The Great Balloon Giveaway

The Great Balloon Giveaway was a site-specific public project and social sculpture.

On Saturday, June 5th, 2010, hundreds of helium-filled latex balloons were attached to the roof of the historic Camron-Stanford house on Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. The balloons were detached and distributed to passersby for free by twenty-five children from the Chinatown district.

The image of a Victorian-era house lifted by balloons was inspired by the Pixar movie "Up," though The Great Balloon Giveaway was immediate, local, urban and serendipitous. It was also site-specific. The project recontextualized the history of the Camron-Stanford House—early residents included David Hewes, who benefitted from Chinese manual labor—with an act of generosity that marked the public's circumambulation of Lake Merritt with brightly-colored balloons.

Caption: Christine Wong Yap with children from the City of Oakland's Lincoln Square Recreation Center, The Great Balloon Giveaway, 2010, public project and social sculpture: 1,000 helium-filled balloons, Camron-Stanford House, Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA. Mills Art Museum's Here and Now, curated by Christian L. Frock presents Invisible Venue. Photos: Paul Kuroda.

The Great Balloon Giveaway was commissioned for Here and Now, a series of three site-specific installations in historic Oakland architecture, curated by Christian L. Frock presents Invisible Venue and organized by the Mills College Art Museum.

The artist would like to thank: FLINC, especially Scott Louie, for t-shirt and screenprinting donations; Trader Joe's, for supplying the children's snacks; the City of Oakland’s Lincoln Square Recreation Center, namely Gilbert Gong, Tina Huang, and the participating children and families; curator Christian L. Frock; Mills Art Museum Director Dr. Stephanie Hanor, staff Stacie Daniels and Lori Chinn, work-study students Nic Buron, Amanda Bailey and Abby Lebbert and Mills alum Kimi Taira; photographer Paul Kuroda; the Camron-Stanford House Board of Directors, especially Nestor Bradley, Elaine Oldham and Neil A. Cook; and the Oakland community participants.