Thursday, June 28, 2012

All Eyes on LexArt's new project--UPDATED

Update: Concordia was installed last weekend by New York-based artist, DeWitt Godfrey. Read all about it here.

  Artist talk, Tuesday, July 31st @ 5:30 at the Downtown Art Center. Friends of public art -- don't miss it! (thanks Celeste for the photo of us!). 


Excitement is building for LexArts new public art project, Concordia, by New York-based artist, DeWitt Godfrey. See recent posting here. As the article states, "this project won a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts—an important grant for Lexington because the emerging [public art] program is being recognized nationally as both innovative and dynamic. Donors gifts will help build and sustain a public art program that reflects Lexington’s unique character and spirit.”
Some artists, residents, and others have been, and remain, critical of the way in which art has been “imported,” if you will, for this project. In other words, they question the fit of art by someone who hails from beyond this region. They argue that if we’re aiming to create, sustain, and maintain a public art program that reflects Lexington’s ethos, shouldn’t we ask Lexington, or, even, Kentucky artists to put their public art forward? Certainly, that’s part of the process, but the larger aim is to select from as broad, qualified, and diverse a range as possible. This project, managed by LexArts, offered the opportunity for ANY artist to submit a proposal. 126 artists responded to the call for artists, and a panel of community individuals winnowed the list to 14. Subsequently, DeWitt was chosen.
I prefer to think that this type of net casting activity – which, mind you, is standard among exemplary public art programs – allows for cross-pollination among creative minds. In fact, now that I am writing this post, I realize that every public art proposal process that I have managed, juried, or vetted over the past fifteen years has employed this same mechanism of reviewing work of a broad band of artists in order to select work that speaks to the community and the place (here, I am thinking of Ronald Fleming’s Placemaking).

Check out DeWitt’s website (Lex’s project is featured here). And, if you need a break from your air conditioning this Saturday, stop by the Downtown Art Center to watch the installation of various shapes and sizes of steel tubes that will be stacked atop the Lexington Laundry Company building at 141 East Main Street. (My hunch is that his piece, Concordia, will be constructed of Cor-ten, a weathering steel that “looks rusty” – it has chemical properties that actually protect the work by producing a protective layer of rust on its surface.) Next month, DeWitt will set up shop at the DeCordova Sculpture Park, where he will site a sculpture. Finally, consider that the name of DeWitt’s piece is Concordia, which may have a specific referent for the artist, but, to me, the title harkens back to the Latin word for "harmony" (literally "with (one) heart"). Good public art can provide space for such activity. Good public art can offer a site fostering harmony and its agency.

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