The Greenway Conservancy unveiled their five year public art strategy at the Annual Meeting October 2, which Russell and I attended. Dr. Cher Knight, Emerson art historian and guest speaker, set the tone with “A Case for the Temporary”. Highlighting works such as The Gates by Cristo and Jeanne-Claude she took the position that temporary art can engage an audience, serve as a destination and be changed as often as the public changes. She pushed for taking risks and that works can displease a public audience because it results in discussion and civic interaction.
The project types unveiled were dubbed Platforms + Magnets. Short-term Platform Projects take advantage of existing park conditions and are intended to support diverse artworks such as lights, light projections, light-based winter installations, smart phone technology, interactive temporary place-making installations, and vent stack murals. Long-term Magnet Projects bring local, national and international attention to the Greenway. These are high visibility, large-scale, high impact projects with big budgets created by internationally recognized artists. (Think again, The Gates by Cristo, an image displayed about a dozen times during the evening.)
The project types announced left me feeling amiss. Of course, I understand efforts focusing on the temporary, I participate and exhibit nationally public artwork temporarily all the time. I also understand the draw to engage viewers and help create active, engaging places. However, the Conservancy’s plan is missing the sculpture?!
I am disappointed that this plan leaves out hundreds of local New England sculptors, emerging or mid-level career artists who would leap at the chance to create work with a budget ranging from $10,000-$50,000. This is a relatively small investment which can help to launch, catapult or restart careers, highlighting innovative local talent. For instance, See Art Orlando, Sculpting the future of Downtown currently has a call out to professional sculptors seeking nine contemporary sculptures to be permanently installed in downtown with purchase amounts starting at $75,000-$250,000.
Strong city programs other than the New York Public Art Fund exist and need to be examined for the Greenway’s next five-year strategy. Incorporating innovative, inspiring and contemporary sculpture in the Greenway in Boston is a must. Take a risk Boston, and buy art.