Public Art. What do you think?
This is the first time since I began working at the Greater Reston Arts Center that our exhibition space includes the park fronting the gallery. It’s exciting and engaging and offers a new opportunity for us as an arts center to interact with our neighbors. Now, people don’t have to consciously choose to visit the gallery to experience an exhibition. They can be passive culture consumers while strolling by, eating lunch under a tree, texting from a park bench, or tending children playing in the fountain. I watch from my office window as people of all ages examine the works by Mike Shaffer and silently pray that the children will not decide to climb while no one is watching. As an educator, I wonder what people are thinking about when they linger in front of one of the sculptures. Do they read the names and smile when they look anew at Earthquake? Does the Monument to Sun and Stars conjure images of other monuments downtown? Do the kids wonder what the view would be like from the top of one of the sculptures?
I’m looking forward to the upcoming panel discussion at GRACE on July 22 at 7:30 when some of these questions might be raised by the public. I’m also interested in what the panelists will have to say regarding the primary question raised by Dale Lanzone, the moderator, who asked, “public art: aquisition or exhibition?” I like temporary public art. The works that engage and arouse curiosity. Works that come, have an impact, and then go. I’ve loved the installation of Botero’s monumental sculptures in downtown DC, how they changed the cityscape for a while, enthused visitors, and then were gone. I walked through the Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s gates in New York’s Central Park and enjoyed saying that I witnessed it and was a part of it, but now it’s gone. It was special to be there. Somehow, permanent sculpture doesn’t have the same sense of immediacy for me.
Here are the details on the upcoming panel discussion. Join me for what should be a most enlightening discussion.
The Gallery Outside: Acquisition or Exhibition?
Moderated by Dale Lanzone, President, International Public Art Marlborough
July 22, 7:30pm, Greater Reston Arts Center
Dale Lanzone will moderate the evening’s discussion on the use of public spaces for temporary art exhibitions, in his words, “taking the museum out of doors.” To name just a few, cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Paris, Rome, Venice, and Madrid, support ongoing programs that both promote and sponsor temporary art exhibitions in public places. Panelists will discuss the ways, means, and benefits of such exhibitions and what this might mean to the local art scene in Northern Virginia.
Susan Harrison, Manager, Art in Architecture Program, United States General Services Administration http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?contentType=GSA_OVERVIEW&contentId=8146
Mike Shaffer, painter, sculptor, and conceptual artist. He is president of the Washington Sculptors Group and board chairman of the Hyattstown Mill Arts Project, a nonprofit arts and cultural center in Montgomery County Maryland. http://mikeshaffer.net/
Welmoed Laanstra, an independent curator, co-curator of Street Scene (www.streetscenesdc.com), and Public Art Projects Curator for Arlington County, Virginia http://www.arlingtonarts.org/cultural-affairs/public-art-in-arlington/about-public-art.aspx
Dale Martin Lanzone is currently the president of International Public Art Marlborough, one of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries. Over the past 12 years, Mr. Lanzone has developed and managed many large-scale, commissioned public art projects with a wide range of artists. http://oneartworld.com/Marlborough.html
Suzi Guardia, Director of Education