Frances Bula header image 2

The public-art debate revs up

August 17th, 2009 · 24 Comments

For those of you not following the comments section under the STOP public art post of yesterday, lots are writing in to argue for and against 1. public art in general 2. a particular installation of things that look like stop signs in Charleson Park.

My more informed readers have let me know, here and in private emails, that the Charleson Park exhibit is not, in fact, a part of the city’s public-art program but a temporary installation connected to the biennale, with a link helpfully provided by several of you.

Along with that, “Bob” also comments: Having work by internationally renown artists placed all over our city is apparently a hardship. Is there anything we don’t complain about in Vancouver?

Please continue the debates — lots of people are reading, even if they’re not commenting, to judge by my private emails.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • SV

    When aren’t people outraged over public art? And allow me to write the next two posts:

    1)When it’s good
    2)Who determines what’s “good”?

    etc, etc.

  • LP

    There was a time when artists would sculpt, paint, and create masterpieces.

    Today they must rely on controversy to get attention, or maybe to disguise just how untalented they truly are.

    Chairs on the beach and stop signs in a park do not constitute art and never will. It is no wonder the general public has no interest in artists today.

  • I look forward to seeing the giant raindrop at the convention centre. Coverage of provincial funding of the arts led to this report:

    Kevin Krueger may have said BC Liberals are supporting the arts in other ways and noted that only this week they installed a 19-meter polystyrene raindrop in front of the new Vancouver convention center. This million dollar piece was designed by four German artists and constructed by Calgary fabricator, Heavy Industries. Krueger added:

    “The future will prove us right. The sculpture will jumpstart B.C.’s raindrop building industry, create thousands of jobs and become phenomenal moneymaking statues for the taxpayers of B.C.”

    Click on my name for the rest of the story.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    Well, LP, all I can say is that I am very much looking forward to Stan Douglas’ mural being unvieled in the Woodwards lobby.

  • A Reader

    LP sounds like Grampa Simpson.

    “I don’t like the looks of those teenagers”…..


  • SV

    LP-masterpieces are still made today. Really. And I won’t get into it here but some of those you might cite as having produced masterpieces were not only unpopular but reviled during their time.

    I’m not trying to be argumentative here just pointing out that appreciation of any piece of art can be pretty subjective.

  • LP

    For those that believe these stop signs and chairs are masterpieces, please raise your hands.

    Didn’t think so.

    And for the “A Reader”…….. whether I’m 20 or 60, a piece of shit is a piece of shit – age is irrelevant to the topic of what worthy art is.

    As for insulting people on someone else’s blog, I would suggest you go and find a personality, or at least borrow one.

  • Frothingham

    LP. Don’t be so closed minded. Open your heart and eyes. Just take a moment and observe them for what they are. No one is talking about “masterpieces”. But we are talking about Art. Art in public spaces. An artist made the “stop signs” in a particular fashion. It is meant to viewed and thought about. Nothing more nothing less. Harms no one. And Offends no one.

  • Jen

    ok then, “I don’t like the looks of those teenagers”.

    Ever seen the Simpsons?

    Harkening back to an goldenage in your mind is sure to make you an embittered old man unsatisfied with anthing that came after your fossilized self.

    Indeed, open your mind.

  • Phlomas

    I’m not a conspiracy theory believer, but I used to think that because the prosperity of the last several decades a secret group of art dealers with ties to Wall Street and abetted by Bernie Madoff, embarked on a huge G&F scheme. Giggle and fleece. Let’s sell the nouveau riche these pieces of kaka and pretend they are art. The rich coke heads, the instant rich and unwashed public will never know the difference.
    Hire six foot women, dress them in black, pair her with an aging punker and give him a name like Zoltan. Have a showing, invite the press etc…Anyway, most of you know what I am getting at…..etc……
    Well, that’s my theory anyway.

  • Frothingham

    there ain’t no cure for philistinism…. off with you lot and read Arnold’s Essays in Criticism .

  • mpm

    I agree with the original article. I like public art, but not in the middle of a community field that children play in everyday. And why must we as Canadians hire outside artists when Vancouver has an amazing and diverse art scene. Oh ya that’s right, we’ll wait for the rest of the world to tell us that these people are wonderful THEN we will display their art.

  • Phlomas

    Arnold who? Schwarzenegger?
    What’s he into now, junk on steroids?

  • SV

    LP-wasn’t saying that stop signs or chairs are masterpieces but was instead referring to your disparaging comments about modern day artists/art.
    Besides there are much better examples of horrible public art throughout our city. I won’t directly identify them but I’ll give you a hint: they’re in the shape of animals.

  • Denis

    When passing by the Save on Foods Memorial arena in Victoria, you will see the strangest chunk of public art . And the taxpayers paid for it!!

  • Bill Lee

    Is this site popular because of the 417 references to erecctile drugs at the end?

    Use Show Coding to show the underlying WordPress code. ( >View >Show Source or Ctrl-U in Firefox) to see the many pill web references. Use wordwrap so that they show en masse.

    I use a different browser which allows me to see people and city councillors as they really are;-) Lizards, folks. Kitten-eating lizards. The 417 lines of erecctile references are a but much but I feel so invigorated.

    Sorry to frighten you….

  • Bill Lee

    Art, this isn’t art, it’s installations from a commercial gallery who can’t find enough insecure suckers.

    This biennale is the small town version of the commercial and interior designers Art Basel and see the Lond0n Daily Telegraph article mentioned in a link there for what it is really about.

    If this city wanted public art, they would require more than 1 percent dedication and they would require that a student (high school, BC College, etc.) be added to an additional commission in material or form that doesn’t have to last forever.

    Gerhard Juchum’s The Lovers II had to be forced unto the City grounds at Alexandra Park on 10th and Cambie by stealth overnight in 1973 before they accepted it.

    The whole town is filled by bad Sunday painters pretending to be professional, artists who have relatives, and artists who can do, but won’t teach.

    If this town liked art, city council would be sculpting once a week (various media), drawing in council meetings, arrange to have 537 West Broadway’s facade lit up, and ask for projects for a thousand traffic circles in the exurbs.

    Public art? People don’t do art, they just press switches and take what is given to them.

    Go to the library, or sit in the VAG bookstore or find their VAG library and skim Flash Art, Kunstzeitung, Juxtapoz, Frieze, and ARTnews among others. Reading 3-year-old issues will bring you up-to-date with the Emily Carr teachers.

  • KH

    Seems to me that the biennale is doing exactly what art should do – spark discussion.

  • cold water

    mwahahah! The conspiracy has worked! We have people talking about art! mwahahahaha!

  • LP

    cold water, you need to stick your head under some really cold water to shock yourself into reality.

    people talk about shit all the time, sometimes it’s politics, sometimes its useless anonymous people on blogs that think their opinions mean something.

    the old saying that “as long a you’re being talked about, is a good thing”, doesn’t hold true in this age.

    17 posts including this one, many from the same people arguing the same beleaguered points. Any other topic draws far more comments, art as a topic is dead to the masses.

    big deal.

    btw, you should try and find a pill for that smugness I hear to goes well with that beverage you like so much.

  • Darcy McGee

    LP, you need to work on a sense of humour…cold water’s comment seems pretty clearly a bit of a joke to me.

  • Blaffergassted

    This is the inevitable result of the city discarding its ever-usefull Device to Root Out Evil!

  • SV

    Is there a word that describes someone who is angry and smug?

  • jay

    Anybody know what the large piece under the north side of the cambie street bridge is? It’s next to the b-ball court/seawall, two large steel grid sturctures surrounded by a chain-link fence.