PUBLIC ART is revolutionary. Art teaches people to see for themselves, to trust what they feel, and to imagine. It encourages people to step out of line, to think for themselves, challenge authority, be individuals, test the limits, and create new relationships between themselves and the world.
PUBLIC ART is heroic, not only in scale but in the risk it demands of the artist. Making a piece that will be there forever, however long that may be, requires a lot of courage. It must be "good", whatever that means, because it will be one of the most prominent pieces the artist ever creates.
PUBLIC ART is controversial. Like a lightening rod that attracts the first strike of an approaching storm, there is always something to criticize. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, commemorating those who died in the Civil War, includes no black soldiers. That is what prompted John W. Thompson to propose a new monument, resulting in the wonderful sculpture of Frederick Douglas. But that too was not without its critics.
PUBLIC ART is about the values of the community. They are monuments to great accomplishments, revealing much about the history of the place. We study cave paintings to learn about our ancestors. Those who want to know about Rochester, the Image Centre of the World, only need look at our public art and learn about us.
September 3, 1992
Richard Margolis is an architectural photographer with a studio on the 4th floor of a former shoe factory in the Neighborhood of the Arts. You can visit his studio on the "2nd SATURDAY" of each month, from October through May, or by appointment. Look at www.AndersonAlleyArtists.com for directions and hours.