By Brittany Whitley
Public art is at the forefront of the city of Madison’s newest board, the Public Arts Commission (PAC), which met for the second time last Thursday to iron out the details of the group’s first project. Town Park in downtown Madison will soon display the first of many public art works to come to Madison, according to the PAC.
In keeping with the commission’s purpose of introducing public art to a variety of public spaces throughout Madison, the council decided that Town Park would be the best location to display their debuting art project, The Tree of Life, sculpted by artist Gregory Johnson.
The visible placement of the sculpture in the park fulfils the Public Arts Commission’s desire to make all artwork assessible for viewing in order to engage the public.
Commissioner Rebecca Rakoczy commented on the desire for community involvement, “I was hoping that this, and all the public art we put up, would start a conversation in some way – how the people interpret it, and children coming up to ask ‘what is this?’”
The board developed several ideas for engaging the public in art interpretation, such as, hosting an installation ceremony, an “artist talk” event, and creating a Facebook page where the community is encouraged to ask questions and give feedback.
Commissioner Ellen Sanders expressed a concern about funding, “I just think it’s important that somehow with our communication, by newspaper or newsletter [that goes out], when we unveil this, we let the citizens know that they are not being taxed or are paying for this.”
This is in standing with Councilwoman Chris Hodge’s statement at the previous meeting that no city money will be used to fund the commission’s project leases. The PAC discussed seeking privately funded donations and sponsorship, but no specific sponsors are named at this time.
The city will be, however, responsible for the concrete slab needed for installation of the statue.
The seven-foot sculpture will, also, be covered by city insurance until the expiration of the PAC’s 22-month temporary installment program.
There was a brief discussion on the future restoration of a century old mural advertisement for Cherry Cola bottles located on West Washington Street being taken on by the students of Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia.
The commissioners elected Commissioner Chris Cook as the chairman and Commissioner Clare Wolfe as vice chair of the PAC.
“The Public Arts Commission is a brand new organization with a bright future. We are excited to have the charge of bringing the arts into the everyday life of both the visitors and citizens of Madison and Morgan,” said Chairman Chris Cook, owner of Madison Studios. “Freely accessible public art can provide a new way to experience our city. Keep an eye out for many projects and public art pieces that will make our town more lively and please, tell us what you think when you see them!”
The next Public Arts Commission Meeting will be held September 28 at 5:30 p.m. in the city of Madison’s meeting hall located at 160 North Main Street in Suite 400.