Your friendly neighborhood skywriting project

A project of the Social Practice Lab at the Asian Arts Initiative

15 Sep 2014


This last group was interested in using this bold opportunity to convey an intimate message, like one you would receive in a text from a close friend. Their message recalls our bodies and our spaces as they withstand and succumb to the march of time.

Brought to you by Hive76, with artists Jacque Liu, Jaime Alvarez, Sarah Kate Burgess, and Mary Smull.


Animated GIF provided by Jaime Alvarez!

15 Sep 2014

“SCIENTIA(knowledge) 正义 (justice) IT TAKES A VILLAGE…”

This message pertains to the state of education in Philadelphia, and the responsibility that we have to our children. The message included one word in Latin and one in Chinese, to reference the cultural heritage of each school.

Teachers from Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School and Roman Catholic High School worked together to decide the final content on this one!


Thanks Colette Fu for sharing the great pic!

15 Sep 2014


This message refers to the progress and labor associated with the now 10-year old project to bring a Rail Park to this neighborhood, and to Philadelphia.

The first message was brought to us by a collaboration between Reading Viaduct Project and Friends of the Rail Park. In fact, their collaboration was so successful, that they “married” their groups back in October 2013!

Video provided by the one, the only, Tom Boutell

15 Sep 2014

Thank You

Dear Philadelphia,

I really wanted to show you something great today. The weather broke just long enough for ‪#‎WriteSky‬ to show us that something great was also beautiful and poetic.

Thanks to everyone who’s come on this journey with me (Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School, Roman Catholic High School, Hive76, Friends of the Rail Park, and Jacque, Jaime, Sarah Kate, and Mary) to Asian Arts Initiative for their support, and to the GEICO Skytypers for keeping a tight formation. And to you, my dear friends and neighbors, who dare to look up and say, “this is totally worth my time.”

Thank you,
Dave Kyu

11 Sep 2014

Sunday, Sep 14


After now THREE cancellations (Sep 2013, 10 May 2014, 6 Sep 2014), Write Sky will have just one more chance to write our messages into the neighborhood sky. Sunday September 14 will be the last date I will pursue for this project. All the work of the project, hanging on the whim of the atmospheric pressure… How dramatic, no?

4 Sep 2014

Save the Date – 9/6


After two cancellations, I’d be skeptical of this notice too. That’s why I’m only giving Write Sky just two more chances – on Saturday September 6, between 11.30a-12.30p, with a rain-date of the following Sunday, Sep 14.

If you are reading this, you must be a fan. Who else would read this? Thus, I’d like to invite you to a little viewing party at 1234 Noble Street (on the street-level part of the Viaduct), also between 11.30a-12.30p, with all the people who participated in the project.

We’ll be making a call on weather at 10am the days of the events – you can email me using the Contact Form, or keep your eye on my own Facebook/Twitter page, or Asian Arts Initiative’s Facebook page, for event updates.

If you could do a no-rain dance for me, I would greatly appreciate it.


2 Jul 2014

Write Sky in ArtPlace Announcement

Big news! An image from Write Sky – specifically the image of two Pearl Street Block Party attendees laying down to use the sodded “sky-viewing area” from that day’s events – was featured in ArtPlace America’s announcement of their $14.7 million dollars of creative placemaking grants! It must’ve been from when Jamie Bennett did a site visit and Asian Arts Initiative, and I had a chance to talk about Write Sky to this group. He must’ve liked the project! See below for proof y’all:

ArtPlace America - Announcements (1)

What a big break! What an amazing opportunity! Why yes, I WILL have the lobster! What a huge… oh wait, what’s that? There’s no credit of the artist or the gallery or the project whatsoever anywhere in the body of this email? Oh yeah, you’re right. Hm.

Well, I guess it’s cool that we were included. Thanks ArtPlace.

23 May 2014

May 10, 2014. RIP.

It’s now two weeks since we had to postpone Write Sky for the second time. May 10 was never really likely, as the forecast was either rainy or cloudy all week. Still I feel the need for closure, and I think I may have to create it myself.

May 10 appeared abruptly. GEICO would be at Maguire Air Force base in New Jersey, and over Philadelphia on May 9 & 10. How were those dates? So much still needed to happen! The core group needed to be re-assembled, Friends of the Rail Park had to determine their message, the 3 messages then needed an order, and the world needed to know about it. For all this to happen, May 10 was exactly three weeks notice. It’s too serene to just re-tell it. Everyone was excited to have a date, and that energy propelled the whirlwind of decisions that needed to fall into place.

I drew up a save the date, and a press release, and emailed all the press people I knew. I designed a flyer for Asian Arts to print and hang 2000 copies. The extremely tricky negotiation became the contracts. When can we cancel food? How much do we owe the photographer if we cancel within 48 hours? 24 hours? How about the videographer? The pilots? Each contract was amended to weigh the best practices of each profession with the volatility of this project.

Friday morning May 9 would be my first check-in with the skytyper. At noon, we would both look at the May 10 forecast. If the forecast was good, we would check in the next day, Saturday at 10am. This would be when the pilots would need to decide if they would fuel up their planes to complete our skywriting job, or if they would keep their planes light for their Air Show. But we never needed to make the second call, because the Friday forecast was rain and clouds. It was off.

I had no time for disappointment yet. I called the photographer, the gallery, the videographer to let them know. I wrote an email to all the project partners, to inform them first. I told the press that they had a free Saturday morning. I then needed to let the public know. I realized the notice was coming from me as an artist – and not from an organization. I took advantage by whipping out the pen tool in Photoshop, and marking up a dumb “un-save” the date to announce the postponement. I saw that it was done, and I needed a break.

If I’m being dramatic in this recap, it’s for the sake of closure. This type of delay is an inherent risk of the project, so I’m not crushed. The more we face these cancellations, the more drama builds into the project: the better the release. That said, too many cancellations, and the closer we move to farce.

Next we keep talking to the skywriters, hoping they can swing by Philadelphia again. And then June, just a breath away now, is when I’ll find out about two grants, that may give us the ability to pick our own dates. So there’s hope! And wishful thinking. And a great cast. Let’s try this again soon, okay?