Why the public hates publicly funded art

If public art has the power like no other to “brand” a city — think of the Eiffel Tower and the Gateway Arch — then why is the public so often against the expenditure?

Dan on Cyburbia thinks it may be the style of art that’s been typically commissioned in the last half of the 20th century:

“Since about the late-mid 20th century a popular form of public art has emerged that I will call ‘amorphism’ that can be found in cities all over the world. It’s difficult to describe, but much like pr0n, you know it when you see it.

“Given that most people prefer their art to have form why have so many formless works been selected/commissioned? Do various governments have a desire to appear cutting edge/avant garde/futuristic and feel the art helps convey that impression? How are most selection committees formed?”

To bring the issue to Fort Wayne: Could much of the disagreement with Harrison Square have to do with distrust of the city’s ability to build something iconic?

I am thinking of the “amorphic” red steel artwork beside the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the name of which escapes me. (Could someone could post a name and even better a link to a photo?) I heard stories that when it was reported the structure was sinking into the ground, a radio station encouraged listeners to drape their bodies all over it, to hasten its sinking?

On the other hand, I’m also reminded of our beautiful Allen County Courthouse, one of the best example of beautiful and functional public art anywhere. What was the spirit of those hardy Fort Waynians, and can it be recaptured?

Please comment here, but also take a minute to read the Cyburbia post and view the great examples.

Author’s photo on Flickr

Former Honolulu mayor to speak on cities of the future

Andy Mitchell of Martin Riley Architects and AB417 brings news of what sounds like a fascinating lecture coming to town in a couple of weeks:

“(It) will occur in Fort Wayne on March 17th from 4:30-6:00 pm. Jeremy Harris, recent Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii will be at the auditorium at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library discussing sustainable development and the cities of the future. He is visiting with Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning and then, through some generous donations from local organizations, will be available to come up to Fort Wayne to give a presentation. He is an excellent speaker and has a vast knowledge to share with us all. I hope you can attend.”

According to his bio:

“During his three terms as Mayor, Honolulu was recognized as one of the best managed cities in the United States.”

After he left office, among other things:

“(H)e served as a national director on the board of the American Institute of Architects, and helped create a new AIA program focused on helping American cities become more sustainable. He was also appointed as a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council. Mayor Harris is currently a member of the Sustainability Roundtable of the National Academy of Science and also serves on the National Academy’s Committee to advise Congress on the future policy and research direction of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

It is unknown whether the lecture will be recorded. You can read more biographic tidbits about Harris after the jump below.

photo of Honolulu by shchukin on Flickr

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Overnight with Frank Lloyd Wright

0302-tra-webculturedtravelermap.jpgHaving a FLW house certainly lends cred to your good city status. And having it accessible publicly lends even more.

The NYTimes today published an article on the phenomenon of FLW houses being turned into, essentially, bread and breakfasts. A quote from the article:

A Frank Lloyd Wright house is like a Japanese garden. No matter where inside it you stand, or which way you turn, the view before your eyes has been planned — and planned to be harmonious and beautiful. To absorb it and try to understand how it was done, you need to move and pause and double back and look around again, stand and sit and maybe lie on the couch. But the usual way to see a Wright house is on a 45-minute or hour-and-a-half guided tour. As a result, Wright admirers have learned to live with frustration.

Staying over, with time and privacy, we chipped away at ours. Over two days and nights, we dined in the glow of concealed overhead lights, read in a cozy nook under triangular windows, lay in bed in the morning watching gray treetops sway. We padded over concrete floors heated by hot water pipes below. Looking at details and structure, we tried to tease out the mechanics behind the overall effect of effortless serenity.

It might be a little pricey, but if you have the chance, take advantage of a local opportunity to increase your knowledge and appreciation for great residential architecture.