John W. Bateman
How great is art, if no one ever sees it?
Art doesn’t always belong in a museum, above a couch (or “divan,” as my grandmother called it), or behind closed doors. It’s why cities often drop sculptures in parks. Plaza entrances to skyscrapers or subway stations may show off instagram-worthy moments for you and your best friends on holiday.
Ever see a blank wall and wish it had a mural? You aren’t alone. A lot of communities invest in public art. Why? It’s free and accessible to everyone: no dress code required. Consider how public art can create community: from the buffalo statues in, well, Buffalo, and the Cow Parade in any of these cities to Cloud Gate in Chicago. Displayed, snapchatted, hashtagged, and posted: public art is often a way people show they’ve been there. Joined the community. Taken part in something. They arguably contribute to a sense of place.
It’s not just limited to a concept of home turf. It’s also been argued that public art can revitalize communities, as this excerpt outlines, by promoting public interaction, increasing civic participation, and engaging youth.
All of these arguments sound great on paper, and probably make sense in a selfie culture where good photo ops are quickly posted on Facebook and Instagram. But what really matters, perhaps, is showing how strong public art can be.
For example, take a look at these murals in Asheville.
Or this 125-foot-tall mural in Philly.
Have you seen any of these in Atlanta?
Even Vicksburg took a flood wall and turned it into an art project. Columbus and West Point have murals... What could we do?