Elliott Kleinberg publicly opened the debate future public art in the City with his article on January 13, 2015. Kleinberg wrote about ideas to relate future public art to the history of West Palm Beach. Many non-historical ideas are also under discussion.
City develops its artistic side
Consultant offers many ideas for art in public places.
By Eliot Kleinberg Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WEST PALM BEACH — Gershwin on “Tip-Toes” at the West Palm Beach Tri-Rail station. Side-by-side comparisons of old West Palm Beach firefighters and the Dutch Masters.
And that’s just for starters.
The Broward County firm contracted to create the master plan for the city’s Art in Public Places program envisions photos and paintings bringing both history and the arts to the city.
The program requires as part of the city’s approval that a developer with a construction or renovation project of at least $500,000 provide art, or cash, equal to 1 percent of the project’s value.
If the developer offers money, it must be spent somewhere other than at the project.
If it’s art, works with the project must by approved by the city’s Art in Public Places committee.
Pompano Beach-based IBI Group won the contract to develop the master plan for the next decade.
The city included the $75,000 in its 2014-15 budget and selected IBI through a bid process, Christine Thrower, the city’s recreation and strategic innovation director, said Friday.
“With the potential for millions of dollars flowing into the (Art in Public Places) account, we thought it was prudent to have a master plan to figure out where that money would be spent, what it would be spent on, and how the process would work to make sure there’s balance citywide,” Thrower said.
She said IBI is expected to finish its report in June.
The group is posting its ideas and soliciting feedback through a blog, https://ibiartwestpalm.wordpress.com/.
Glenn Weiss, public art planner for IBI, said Friday his group is starting with the blog, which includes a link to a survey, https://www.research.net/s/WPB_ART.
The group will hold town hall meetings in March and April, he said.
“Right now, we’re just in the beginning,” Weiss said.
As for his blog: “They’re just my ideas. I’m just putting out things to get people to think creatively about public art in the city.”
Weiss said it’s no coincidence that many of his ideas mix art with history in a city that already plasters historic photos on electric boxes right on Clematis Street. “It’s the city’s character,” he said. “Whether it comes from the past, or going to the future.” Among the ideas:
- Display public artwork at the train station, along Tamarind Avenue, “interpreting the first act” of “Tip-Toes.” This 1925 Broadway musical, set in Palm Beach, was inspired by George Gershwin’s visits to Florida and the public’s fascination with the state’s real estate boom.
- Design replicas of long-lost landmarks, such as the iron gate that once stood over Woodlawn Cemetery, and which bore the famous inscription, “That which is so universal as death must be a blessing.” (When the iron gates came down to widen Dixie Highway, these words were etched into the new concrete arch built in 1925.) Another example: the ornate sign for the 1924 Kettler Theatre, which towered over downtown, flanked by giant winged angels.
- Display historic photos side-by-side with classic works of art. For example, the blog paired an undated photo, probably from the 1930s, of West Palm Beach firefighters standing alongside a truck with Rembrandt’s classic “Dutch Masters” painting, which actually is titled “De Staalmeesters” and shows Dutch big-ticket drapery cloth inspectors. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @eliotkpbp