A provision attached to a post-9/11 Defense Department Construction Initiative may end up designating 600,000 dollars to a fairy and gurgling toad.
April Fools! (no wait, just kidding, this is actually legitimate. Really.)
Here’s the gist of the blaring controversy:
“[Alexandria, VA] is building the new $700 million ‘Mark Center,’ to serve as a hub for defense department workers being relocated as part of the so-called Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan (a controversial post-9/11 initiative to make the area less vulnerable to terrorist attack by dispersing personnel). The construction project has a provision for public art, to be sited in the complex’s transportation center, and the four finalists are on view at an Alexandria rec center from March 24 until today, when the decision is to be made.”
quoted from ArtInfo.com HERE
Despite the fact that there are some who obviously don’t understand or favor the idea that such an extreme price is being devoted to, frankly, a portion of the project that is meaningless toward the overall scheme of the project’s purpose, rather than the simple existence of opposing opinions, it’s the genuine decree on the matter of debating the art works’ costs that is really surprising:
“… in an E-mail, an Army Corps of Engineers official said that the decision can’t be held up because it would impact completion of the huge project.”
quoted from the US News, HERE
Whether you like the four finalist pieces or not seems irrelevant at this point. The seed of contention here sounds as though it is centered around the fact that priorities don’t appear straight. The price tag of at least one of these works is quite high and on top of that, if groups want to stand in a room and argue/vote on whether to have any art in the transportation center lobby, that really shouldn’t be a reason for drastic alteration or severe delay of progression to everything else in the meantime -especially since this project is primarily for the focus of terror attack prevention. (I’m not going to comment on the legitimacy or lack thereof on that aspect of the story; it’s way too complicated of an issue for one arts professional to comment on out of context.)
While I want art to have more of a forefront stance in primary education and American exposure, there’s an optimal time and place to drive that point across and if done aimlessly, creates the opposite effect. If something is of a significant cost to a portion of the American population and has been deemed for a very specific non-arts related purpose (and a rather sensitive one at that,) what goes on the walls or in the offices for aesthetic function shouldn’t become the key to a green light for work to get done. To me, it almost makes any art in question become an object of mockery unto itself. As is the case with these four pieces, they have no control over whether they stand in the back and wait their turn to shine or become resented as an unimportant mass of “wasteful government spending;” which isn’t exactly how supporters want the arts to be viewed amidst so much reduction of government support these days.
Below are links to the four finalists’ pieces, being decided on today. Note, the Advisory Committee of the Mark Center encouraged use of one or more of three themes: Nature, Transportation and History.
Artist: Linda DePalma
Piece Focus: Virginia Magnolias (Nature)
Artist: Cheryl Foster
Piece Focus: Frog and Princess (Nature and Transportation)
Artist: Heidi Lippman
Piece Focus: Patterns of Sine Waves (Transportation)
Artist: Deirdre Saunder
Piece Focus: Bench and Mosaic (No explicit focus stated)