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ArchitectureView – Public Art Worth It?

Architecture View By Bob Barzan

Photo is Forma X, 1969 by Arnaldo Pomodoro, at 1700 Standiford. It is an amazing piece of publicly displayed art that most people don’t know exists. How it got here is a story. Photo 2 is ’57 Chevy Painted by Aaron Vickery FASM by Classic Community Murals

Is Public Art Worth the Money?

Public art of one kind or another has been popular since ancient times. Statues, monuments, murals, and landscaping are examples familiar to everyone. There are thousands of pieces of public art in United States including the State of Liberty, the Washington Monument, the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, the neon of Las Vegas, the Sundial Bridge in Redding, Seattle’s Space Needle, and the Modesto Arch.

Outdoor or publically displayed art is expensive and not necessary to the continued existence of these cities or any city, but every one of these cities would be significantly diminished without it. Publicly displayed art that is well done and well selected has benefits that are not immediately tangible but still important; it can memorialize, provoke, educate, inspire, entertain, and delight. It can beautify the appearance of a building or a street and help create pleasing urban design. A work of art can even provide an identity for a city and at the same time celebrate its cultural and historic heritage.

There are people in Modesto working to bring more publicly displayed works of art into our city. Most noteworthy is the work of Classic Community Murals and Murals in Motown. They have facilitated the completion of several murals including some in the design district. In 2012, the community restored our famous arch, and the Modesto Art Museum, using funds provided by Artplace America, is working with the city on a public art project that will be completed this year.

Besides the intangible benefits listed above, good public art also has serious financial benefits for a city. People travel and spend money to see works of art. Perhaps no one is more surprised by the connection between art and its financial benefits then the people of Redding where people come in large numbers to see their art bridge. A second serious financial benefit is that public art attracts new businesses. Art alone won’t bring new companies to Modesto, but it is part of the mix that corporations look at when profiling a city and deciding on new facilities. When it is done well, public art is a worthy investment.

To see an interactive map of publicly displayed art in Modesto http://modestoartmuseum.org/pages/bbm.htm then click Public Art in Modesto.

Bob Barzan Modesto Art Museum

Bob Barzan bbarzan@yahoo.com

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