Commission unveils report to help guide city's public art efforts

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 12:40am

The Metro Arts Commission and the Nashville Civic Design Center unveiled Tuesday a 282-page report that could serve as a template for the possible placement and types of future public art for the city.

MAC Executive Director Jen Cole said the report, titled Nashville/Davidson County Public Art: Location Study & Typology Recommendations, focuses on neighborhood- and pedestrian-scale art more than large pieces found downtown, such as Ghost Ballet for the East Bank Machineworks and Citizen.

“As part of our overall strategic plan, we wanted to 1) consider ways to scale public art throughout the county responsive to demographic and growth patterns and that would promote maximum access to public art; and 2) provide a framework for local artists,” Cole said.

The report is offered to the public as a free PDF download here.

Cole said the team worked on the study from May to December of last year, looking at all existing Metro Planning Department neighborhood plans. From there, the arts commission took its own guidelines and assessed public art in other cities to create a blueprint of sorts involving location and art type.

“Nashville is very new to public art,” Cole said. “The study offers a way to do a thorough analysis of places in which we can put public art but also shows what public art looks like in other cities.”

The Metro Arts Commission paid for the report, enlisting NCDC. The budget was about $22,000.

“We feel that was a wise investment before we started placing public art willy-nilly around the county,” Cole said.

Cole said Nashville/Davidson County Public Art: Location Study & Typology Recommendations also can help the general citizenry understand sources of public art funding. She said the private sector in various cities is contributing to art placed within the public realm.

“When we installed the bike racks earlier in the year, I got half a dozen calls from private businesses,” Cole said.

Gary Gaston, NCDC design director, and design fellow Melissa Alexander handled the bulk of the report’s work for the center.

“It frames an ambitious plan for the future of art — and not just in downtown Nashville,” Gaston said. “It’s important because it is the vision for how you go about implementing art throughout the county.”

Ronnie Steine, Metro councilman-at-large and generally acknowledged as the council’s foremost proponent of and authority on art, said the report is a “huge step forward” for public art in Davidson County.

Steine said identifying public sites in virtually every council district that would be conducive to public art can create many opportunities and, along with the team approach used to produced the report, is "egalitarian.”

“This will help spur thought and build interest throughout the entire county,” he said.    

14 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 1/11/11 at 5:51

$22,000 spent just on the study alone? How many millions of taxpayer dollars will go into the "art" itself?

Since when is government in the business of providing public art at taxpayer expense? Is this part of the "General Welfare" concept? Sounds like a public welfare program for "public" artists and those who enable them.

Governments should stay out of the arts and entertainment business, IMO. Squandering tax revenues on sports stadiums and pricey pieces of art is not within the purview of democratic governance.

Since the beauty of "art" is in the eye of the beholder, it is a certainty that many folks will not appreciate the expenditure.

Jen Cole and Ronnie Steine, Nashville's art-loving politicians, should pool their private resources and personally pick up the tab for any proposed public "artwork"....the people's money is better spent on more pressing issues.

By: Susie R on 1/11/11 at 10:29

I just spent I don't know how long pouring over the newly unveiled report about Public Art.
I am thrilled to know about the process, but also to see the examples of public art from all over the world! It's so inspiring!!!

I am very grateful to the far sighted people who have worked on this. To me, public art in cities says volumes of good things about the people who live there and the effective and high-minded way their community works together.

By: JDG on 1/11/11 at 11:14

Yes Susie, it does all that, and all at the expense of more pressing needs

By: bfra on 1/11/11 at 11:48

Susie - What does the pile of junk iron, by the river & the naked people say about Nashville?

By: Loner on 1/11/11 at 2:16

Susie is on the Art Committee or public artist?

They "unveil" pricey reports on public art now, later these same folks will get to "unveil" the "art" itself. Aren't these expensive surprises fun and exciting? Jen, Ronnie and Susie think so too.

By: Loner on 1/11/11 at 3:29

When taxpayer funds are being spent, transparency is a good idea. When the expenditures are suddenly "unveiled" to the public, then the democratic process has been circumvented. Don't you agree, Susie?

By: breathofdeath on 1/11/11 at 3:34

How's this for transparency Loner? Jen's husband is Metro Councilman Erik Cole.

By: bfra on 1/11/11 at 3:56

Can't have all these Metro public officials wives being just a "tennis wife". Create jobs, 2 incomes are better than 1. Their MO, taxpayers can afford it!

By: Loner on 1/11/11 at 4:01

No sheet? Thank you, breathofdeath, for that tidbit of info....now the inexplicable becomes explicable and all the more despicable. This gives new meaning to the term "sweetheart deal".

Public Art, Cronyism & Nepotism seem to go together....when governments get out of control and out of touch.

Any other light to shed on this, breathofdeath?

By: Loner on 1/11/11 at 4:06

For $22,000, this report should be available online in a format that is cut-paste friendly.
These PDF documents are difficult to work with, IMO...maybe that's part of the plan, keep folks in the dark as much as possible.

Maybe I don't have the savvy, I'm no computer geek, but to me PDF is a pain in the @ss.

By: Loner on 1/11/11 at 4:08

PDF = Pretty Damn Foolish?

By: ACitizen on 1/12/11 at 11:15

A Citizen
Loner, breathofdeath and bfra, you are the biggest bunch of crabbing, complaining, and just plain bitchin' people in all of Nashville. I am sick of you same old complainers, every day crabbing about literally EVERYTHING and ANYTHING. Please try to be a little more positive, can't you? I mean, how do you stand living with yourselves? You are so miserable I don't understand why you don't just give the rest of us a break by putting yourself out of your misery.
FYI, a $22,000 report is CHEAP! The report is published in pdf format to read, not to be modified by the reader.
I fully support the concept of public art. I see how it can enrich the lives of citizens and how it can provide a sense of a city to visitors. Personally, I like the Ghost Ballet of the East Bank Machine Works and I like where it's located. And I'm happier with the second proposed (and installed) work by the artist who has work on the Public Square. His first proposal was rediculous for that formal space.
Also, FYI, Musica (the "naked people" in the Music Square Roundabout) was privately funded (the streetscape work was publically funded) and was sculpted by the same local artist who provided the statue of Athena in the Parthenon. Although neither sculpture is particularly appealing to me personally, neither was publically funded either.
So, read the report, enjoy the art, and stop your bitchin' --- please!

By: DDG on 1/12/11 at 1:55

Art makes our city a great city, among other things. This amount is not unreasonable.

By: Loner on 1/14/11 at 12:45

ACitizen came in late to the discussion. I caught this personal attack by chance, while reviewing the archives..

ACitizen pleaded, "You are so miserable I don't understand why you don't just give the rest of us a break by putting yourself out of your misery."

It's always about you, isn't it, ACitizen? You are the victim of my misery? You poor boy/girl, how awful.

Some rain has sprinkled on your parade?

No, I don't think I'll commit suicide to please the victims of my "misery". Why is it always a death wish for your opponents, with you right-wing Nashville people? Is that what your corn-fed preacher told you to do....to wish death on folks that you disagree with? The Bible Belt is notorious for this kind of twisted theology.

You could join us in our discussions and defend your views, instead of acting like a miserable troll.....with nothing but vile invective to offer.

I smell a vested interest with this ACitizen poster; I suspect that he/she is a direct beneficiary of the funding. Is this poster a professional zealot?