In March 2012 three years ago, the AiPP Committee endorsed the idea constructing in brick an Ann Norton sculpture as major significant public artwork in West Palm Beach. Only thru the fence at the Norton Sculpture Garden can you see parts of her sculptures.
In 2014, the AiPP Committee and City Commission “unreserved” the funds for the project on Okeechobee as rendered below. During the master plan process, they would re-examine the project that would include other locations and different scales. Now is that time.
More information on Ann Norton on this blog, click here. Also information of an program idea to purchase works by long-time WPB artist, click here.
COMMUNITY MEETING FOR PUBLIC ART MASTER PLAN. On Wednesday, April 22 at 6:00 PM, the City of West Palm Beach and IBI Group will hold an open community meeting to discuss the Art in Public Places Master Plan. Many slides of artwork from around the world and recommendations for art projects in the City during the next ten years. Please join the active discussion at the Flagler Gallery on the first floor of City Hall.
PARKING VALIDATED IN CITY PARKING GARAGE
Entrance to garage on Banyan/1st Street or Dixie Hwy
For IBI Group, consulting art researcher Surale Phillips completed the public art survey for the master plan in February. 689 people completed the online public art survey for the City of West Palm Beach. Phillips used the result from the 406 people who self-declared themselves residents of West Palm Beach, but the results are nearly the same with employees and visitors included.
Pleas view the slideshow that was presented at the March, 2015, Art in Public Places Committee meeting. Please remember that the survey is not “scientific” as people volunteered for the survey and in this case, 90% really enjoy art.
From the survey, we constructed a draft mission statement and goals related to expressed priorities.
The Art in Public Places program should beautify the city through timeless, beautiful and meaningful sculptures, gardens and murals in parks, downtown, waterfront and entrances to the city.
The future artworks should inspire creativity, bring delight to everyday spaces, support local artists, promote pride, attract and entertain tourists to our city, and reflect the city’s many cultures and lifestyles.
When appropriate, the art should be fun and colorful and artists should improve blank walls, vacant lots and plazas
The survey both reflects and deviates from national opinions. Parks, downtowns and entrances are frequently preferred locations and beauty the goal. The lack of interest for artworks in neighborhoods or that reinforce neighborhood identity is unusual. Vacant lots, blank walls and supporting local artists are higher than normal.
Generally, people understand public art as sculptures, murals and functional artworks, but gardens are higher than normal. Street art, changing art and interactive artwork are newer ideas that have support.
The public art surveys produces some challenges to the program.
1. Work that is beautiful and meaningful, but not traditional modern art nor representational art.
2. Work that is excellent, innovative and attracts tourists, but not necessarily made by artists of international renown.
3. Work made by local artists from a range cultural backgrounds, but without a priority to benefit local neighborhoods.
Artists across the world are contributing ideas and works of art to help make our built environment more sustainable. In south Florida, improvements to reduce electrical use in building and smart uses of rain water are particularly important. Most art projects are equal parts reality and poetry to remind the public about the need to change and a symbol to tenants or buyers about the environmental concerns of the owner.
As lack of basic exercise has contributed to a decline in American health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trust and others have funded research and programs to increase healthy living in the cities. Active Living by Design and Health Impact Project are programs looking at urban design, building design and urban policies that encourage exercise. Many of Knight Foundation “Cities Challenge” and “Art Challenge” grants results in more activity use of the city.
These ideas match with the desires of new residents and employee to activate downtowns. Instead of only the gym, the new generation enjoys using the public spaces of the city for walking, biking, jogging, dancing and games. Below are public art projects that developers might consider to expand physical (and social) activity around the site and building.
Urban Swings: Boston and Montreal
Encourage Walking on Stairs
Watch/Listen to the Video of Piano Stairs in Sweden
In 1994, the City of West Palm agreed with the family of Henry Rolfs, Sr. to honor his contribution to the City with a sculpture in the median of Okeechobee Blvd. Artist Marsha Montoya Meyer made the statue that welcomes visitors to West Palm at the intersection of Tamarind/Parker and Okeechobee.
Mr. Rolfs and his partner David Paladino were responsible for consolidating all the 77 acres that eventually became City Place, the Kravis Center and the Convention Center. Without their visionary purchases, it is very unlikely that City Place would exist. Unfortunately for Rolfs and Paladino, the economic downturns of the late 1980s and early 1990s ruined their opportunity to complete their vision and the land was acquired by the City.
In our community discussions on public art, we learned that most people don’t know anything about the sculpture. If they have thought about it, then most assume it is second memorial to Henry Flagler. Part of the reason for the lack of knowledge is that sculpture is undersized for the site and almost no pedestrians cross at this location to learn about Mr. Rolfs.
Given the contribution of Mr. Rolfs, the sculpture seems better located near or in City Place. Pedestrian could enjoy the artwork and read information about Mr. Rolfs’ life and activities in West Palm.
What do you think? Should the sculpture be moved or remain in place?
In every city, county and state, artwork by some of the long time resident artists with exceptional careers not been purchase for the public art collection. These artists are the artistic foundation of the community and deserve to be celebrated and remembered long into the future.
Some of these artists work in durable materials suitable for public art, but many are painters, printmakers, photographers, filmmakers, digital artists, etc. Others like ceramic artists may never have worked a large scale. But with today’s many fabrication techniques, their artworks can be transformed into the public works.
An “Honors Public Art Program” would select a living or deceased artist each year to purchase/commission and display her/his artwork in public space or buildings. In City Hall, a permanent board would recognize the artists commissioned in the program.
For example, a similar program was operated in Seattle in the 1980s & 1990s. Below are two examples of public artworks by prominent resident painters: Jacob Lawrence and Michael Spafford. Lawrence is porcelain enamel and Spafford is concrete panels.
The artwork of Bruce Helander, inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2014, is used for the header.
Since the beginning of architecture, front door or entrance has been a primary location for symbolic, religious or decorative elements. When mansions, hotels and office buildings were invented, the entrance sequence from plaza, staircase, doorway and lobby became the first experience and taste of the building. This sequence is always complete with art, gardens, lighting and decor of all types. With the invention of plate glass, the outdoor plaza to indoor lobby merged together especially at night.