Today we’re launching a new series called “Wooster Roundtables” in which we ask a group of our favorite people to weigh in with their thoughts on a single question. Over the next five days we’ll be posting the various responses that we’ve received.
Lartely we’ve been thinking a lot about “Public Art” funds and how the money is spent. So for the first Wooster Roundtable discussion, the quesiton we decided to pose to our panel is….
IF YOU WERE GIVEN A $20 MILLION FUND TO SPEND ON PUBLIC ARTS PROGRAMS IN YOUR CITY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THE MONEY?
Over the last few years, mccarren park in williamsburg has seen at least one form of new development on every side of it. the park itself got an astro turf soccer field face lift and with this pending massive influx of new residents, the rest of the park is sure to follow suit. the mccarren park public pool, once the the beacon of the east side of the park, now sits in the shadows of the coming soon Ikon Loft Living. this 1936 structure, somewhere between a bunker and the taj mahal, can’t be knocked down because it’s on the historic register and its biannual budget isn’t enough to restore and maintain it. in fact, its budget is barely enough to keep the trees trimmed and gates secure (there’s always a way in, though). over the past 4 years, they must’ve buffed about 6 or seven times, so every few months you’ve got a brand new museum.
with 20 million dollars i would restore the swimming pool to be swimmable in the summer, skateable in the fall and spring and ice-skatable in the winter. the diving pool would be unearthed and restored into a bowl which would be skatable all year long. adjacent to it, a skate track would be built and painted.
the students from neighboring high schools would get credit to spearhead various projects to restore and maintain the area. the artists who have painted these walls for the 20 + years the pool’s been shut would be offered the ability to realize new work. artists would be invited in from all over the world to paint, lead workshops and take a dip. there would be skate and synchronized swimming workshops, too
... Maya Hayuk
As an artist I am actually moving toward larger scale public projects. These are projects that would be unreasonable (I won’t say impossible) to pull of illegally and would certainly require more money than I have in either bank account and more manpower than any of my street-art comrades can muster.
The question is also tricky because in this case you are asking an artist, not a delagated official, and any artist would agree that if they were given $20 million up front, they would probably bank-roll their own projects first, and then split the remaining balance democratically with projects they felt most moving.
This is why artists like Christo and Jeanne-Claude are absolute heroes of public art. They do not accept outside funding of any kind, therefore there are no administrative, beurocratic, or political strings attatched to their vision. They are able to independantly generate budgets in the 10s of millions from the sales of their drawings. However, Christo and Jeanne-Claude do have to bend over backwards to the powers that be for permission, which of couse us street artists never had to worry about.
Above are some sketches I’ve made for sites in New York City, Paris and Beirut. I plan to execute these projects one day hopefully with permission, but as a street artist I’ve adopted the mentality that if the front door is locked, I’m checking the back door next..
... Leon Reid (aka Darius Jones)
COMING LATER THIS WEEK, RESPONSES FROM SUCH PEOPLE AS STEN, DAVE THE CHIMP, ADAM NEATE, MARK JENKINS, AND MANY MORE