Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

An Interview with B. Wurtz, by A. Bernstein
Kenneth Price dies at age 77
Edgar Arceneaux lecture
Ten Thousand Things at PCC Sylvania
Preserving Washington State's Public Art
Presidents Day Links
Weekend Picks
Trickle down inspiration: the economy of Bruce Nauman's Basements at Cooley Gallery
Slifkin on Bruce Nauman
Travis Fitzgerald and Gary Robbins at 12128
Monday Links
Indispensable Replica Links

recent comments

Calvin Taplay

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Tuesday 02.21.12

« Presidents Day Links | Main | Ten Thousand Things at PCC Sylvania »

Preserving Washington State's Public Art

Broken_Obelisk_Red_Square.JPG
Washington State's most famous bit of public art, Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk (1963) technically not at risk but it is a slippery slope

The idea to sell off works in Washington State's public art collection is such a bad idea. Also, the wolf in sheep's clothing tactic of using sales to fund scholarships and more art acquisitions doesn't make it any better.

Weve been down this road before with both the Rose Art Museum and the Oregon Cultural Trust. Both of which ended up getting support from conservatives and non arts people... here's why:

1)Public collections are kept in trust for the public. The thing about trusts is that you don't go radically altering (in this case selling) the asset kept in trust. If you treat a trust as a rainy day fund it simply ceases to exist.

2) This is particularly short sighted since the elements of the collection are acquired for the way they engage and complete specific sites and buildings. That context building is a sort of running civic commentary and selling said works becomes tantamount to book burning of civic memory. Often the artwork outlives the original buildings and provides a thread through the past.

3) Selling works when you think they are worth a lot of money is foolhardy. For example, though it isn't at risk here Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk in the Red Square of the University of Washington's Seattle Campus is indeed worth a great deal of money but as one of only three (and the best of Newman's sculptures) replacing it with something of similar importance is extremely unlikely and it will likely be worth infinitely more both monetarily and as a cultural touchstone/icon 100 years from now. Once again, each piece comes from a certain point in history... sell the piece sell that history (it never comes back and because it goes to the highest bidder it is generally lost to the public).

4) This is a dangerous precedent. When you treat a collection like a liquid asset it changes the way you collect and for what reasons. Public art is an investment in the public's access and enjoyment. A monetary investment comes with different performance expectations, which have nothing to do with the public's access and enjoyment. The two dynamics are at odds. Public art managers should not be investment portfolio managers.


Here's Jen Graves take

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 21, 2012 at 10:48 | Comments (1)


Comments

I think that it is essential to preserve a state's public art collection to place importance on the regions' history and culture. The collection can be displayed in any museum in Washington State for the benefit of the people. It is important to recognize a regions' history and this act helps to do this.

Posted by: Calvin Taplay [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 26, 2012 08:55 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee