Public Art in NYC

Public Art in NYC

Public art in New York was first introduced in the 70’s and immediately raised controversies on what it would achieve. The public did not value art then and the artist had rough time trying to prove themselves in the industry. They had to learn most of the art on their own through practice. The controversies are a competition between “physical, economic and social composition” (Blake, 2008). The space allocation does not follow certain procedure and there is no objectivity when assigning space. This is because no one had faith in what art could achieve. The argument advanced is because arts change the perspective of people and the way they see things to the negative.

The artists claim that art gives direction to people along with educating them and making them aware of their surroundings but the authorities are opposed to the view saying that art promotes feminism in a society. Art was used to educate people on how a society should be and this raised controversies with the authorities who felt that art was raising unnecessary alarms in the society. However not all people are against it, a psychiatrist based in the US realized the “role of art to subdue the effect of racism in the society” (Deutsche, 1998). They created pieces of art that took the role of politician to educate the masses to accommodate one another and form a cohesive society that they would love to say it is their own. The doctors noticed the tremendous effect realized from art in subduing the vices.

He also noticed improvement with his patients who were trying hard to fit in the society. The art have been known to play a big role to “health, wealth, tolerance and efficient governance in the society” (Deutsche, 1998). The filmmakers have been quick to educate the society of their rights and therefore shaped the face of democracy in the society. Art though has not been massively appreciated and most people think public art is the process of erecting a sculpture in a public space. However, there is more to it because every sculpture has been made from an inspiration and the need to correct something in the society or acknowledge it presence.

This inspiration debates spurs controversies on civic education and democracy. Therefore the question whether an artist will secure “a public space for his works” is becoming “more difficult and answerable” (Blake, 2008). The authorities tend to shy away from such commitment of allowing the artists have their way saying that such display call for public involvement and hence attract a lot of speculation. Further, art is very expensive which makes the provident fund allocated for it unequal to the task. Finding money in a society that did not have much respect for the art proved very tasking. Another controversy is the public opinion of what the art stands for.

There has been a controversy about the venue in the public place where they can be erected but the public demands that the meaning of the sculpture should first be established and the purpose or which it will play in its position. The symbolic meanings are “what most people want to find before they can associate themselves to it” (Deutsche, 1998). unfortunately art has a many meanings depending with what an individual can see thus people can turn down a good piece of art because they associate it with a different meaning for what it was first created. Because of this art has faced tremendous criticism.

Art is expensive which explains the reason why not so many people have sculptures in their house even if they love art. Art in the public spaces always will cost money and this money is always passed to the taxpayer who mostly hardly has enough to eat and meet his daily needs therefore that is the reason the public is opposed to erection of sculptures in public places. Art has a spiritual spark in it. Which means the divinity of art should be protected even by the artist. The suitability of an artist who is inspired to the work of art for educating the masses should be without blemish. He should live an ordered life free from criminal activities and other unacceptable social behavior.

The society is very critical about art and the author, often when an artist displays his art the society is judgmental on the artist’s way of life and his position on the issues of the society. His works will be accepted if he shows discipline and a strong personality in relation to his work. The conception is sometimes primitive and unfair because the artist’s personal life should not be associated with “an otherwise beautiful piece of work, as the two have nothing in common” (Freise, 2003). One such sculpture carved by Tobin whose life was filled with controversies and crime was rejected by the public because of his personal shortcomings.

He had been involved in murder of a respectable woman and soon after theft in fisheries for which he had been employed to spy on people who did poaching at the river. “He himself poached and sold the fish to some smugglers when he did not pay them in full they reported him to his agents” (Bisesi & Lidman, 2005). Tobin pleaded guilty and received a jail term of fourteen years but that was nothing compared to what his piece of work would speak of him. The public demanded that his sculpture be kept away from public vicinity the authorities agreed with the public because of the political cost it would have on them. Although the sculpture has been fully paid for using the taxpayer money they were opposed to it.

His partner was tempted more than one time to erect the sculpture to display its beauty and he approached the commission to sell it. The news got in the public domain and the chairperson of the commission lost his seat. The sculptor was never sold and for many days, nobody showed interest of it until a sitting body was put in place to re evaluate what was to be done to the sculptor. The public was still adamant and the chair of the proceeding noted that “there was no telling what the sculptor has done to the art world” (Bisesi & Lidman, 2005). It did not matter whether it was sold or disposed off because the public eye would be more critical on public art and the artists’ personal life. Art is a language that commands strong passion from all sectors of life. This is reason that art and politics do not mix.





















Works Cited

Bisesi, Michael and Lidman Russell. The Welcome Pole: Public Art, Process, and Controversy. Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society; winter 2005. Print.

Blake, Nelson, Casey. The Arts of Democracy: art, public Culture, and the State. Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press. 2008. Print.

Deutsche, Rosalyn. Art and Public Space: Questions of Democracy. Duke University Press stable, 1998. Print.

Freise, Kathy. Reverberating Disputes: Public Art, Controversy and Memory. American Quarterly, Platinum Periodicals. Dec 2003. Print.

Ho, Christopher. The Space of Art Author. Performing Arts Journal, Inc.1998. Print.

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