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.
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.
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.
Twice in our community dialogues, West Palm Beach residents reminded the groups of the 2009 idea by former Mayor Lois Frankel to commission a troll sculpture under the Royal Palm Bridge. Idiosyncratic projects like a troll can be very popular. Many of the famous sculptures, such as the Statue of Liberty, were considered very strange until the sculptures earned a positive reputation.
The most famous troll is in Seattle under the Aurora Bridge. The Fremont Troll was created by Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter & Ross Whitehead in 1990.
Of course other trolls exist…………………..
Comment: Love the idea of a mythical creature under the bridge, but don’t find a troll particularly appropriate to West Palm Beach. Both Denmark, and Seattle have misty woodlands, environments that might be imagined habitats to trolls. Perhaps if the community decides to have something under the bridge, a giant sea dragon, the old man of the sea,Neptune, a wistful seated mermaid, and a merman emerging from the water, or some such might be good options.
Perhaps you could have a contest to get residents involved in what it should be.
Although not an official “Welcome to West Palm Beach” sign, the new “ZOO” sign at the Palm Beach Zoo tower adds to the city’s entrance on Summit Blvd. Part of the Public Art Master Plan will recognize some signs as important elements of the city and its history. For example the Hall Hardware “hammer” on South Dixie.
It may be possible to re-make great historic signs from the City’s past.
If you have more ideas for public art in the West Palm Beach parks, please go online and participate in the “MindMixer” community ideas website. The site is part of the Parks Master Plan for citizen input by consultant GreenPlay.
Great civic symbols are frequently on the water’s edge or in the water itself. Statue of Liberty. Sydney Opera House. Jefferson Memorial. And lighthouses, temples and recently big ferris wheels.
The success of any great symbol from the water is its ability to visually stand-out and anchor the vista of the city or waterfront. It must succeed in the day and night. And must be special to visit, not just look at.
Sculptures on the water have worked to make icons for the city, but not that many.
The City might consider at the end of the Evernia Street Pier.
In the CIP budget of the City, the Commission has budgeted $50,000 for entry markers or welcome signs into the City. The Mayor asked IBI Group to examine how the public art program might contribute to the new entry features. On Friday, February 13, Sybille Welter, AiPP Coordinator, Brian Collins, City Traffic Engineer, and Glenn Weiss, IBI Group, visited many possible sites. Below are some the existing welcome signs.
Click Pictures to see more detail of possible gateway locations.
Click Slideshow Link to See Images of 11 Possible Gateway Locations