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Salem revs up public art; installs contemporary sculptures

Posted by Terri Ogan  June 28, 2013 11:08 AM

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The city of Salem installed three sculptures in the downtown area on Tuesday as a part of an ongoing effort to build momentum on public art in the community.

One piece is located at the end of Artists’ Row along New Derby Street. Another piece (containing two sculptures) will be placed near the intersection of Front Street and Washington Street, and the remaining piece (containing four sculptures), will be located in the Old Salem Jail Green by the intersection of Sergeant James Ayube Memorial Drive.

The three contemporary sculptures were created by artist Austin Collins, from Notre Dame, Ind., and will be in place through early November.

This is the second summer that the city has installed contemporary art sculptures downtown. The first year was in 2011.

“At the recent Imagine Art Here meeting for the city’s Public Art Master Plan we heard from many residents that they would like to see more public art," said Mayor Kimberley Driscoll in a recent statement. "With the installation of this year’s temporary sculpture exhibition, we’re looking to continue to build momentum for developing public art throughout the community. The temporary sculpture exhibition is an integral part of the City’s evolving public art program.”

At the public meeting about two weeks ago, city officials introduced a Public Art Master Plan, which entailed a strategy to increase public art and enhance cultural, aesthetic and economic vitality of the community, the plan says.

The strategy, which is in its fundamental stages, includes creating a Salem public art initiative by ordinance, determining sources of uses and funds, planning process for art selection and management, and reviewing the process for gifts and loans from private individuals, foundations, corporations or other organizations.

In addition, the city has asked residents to give their input on where to place the art. Some of these locations are where the new contemporary art now stands.

"When we did the public forums on our master plan on public art, people said, 'Wouldn't it be great to do public art at artists' row?' We're taking advantage," said Lynn Duncan, director of the department of Planning and Community Development. "I've already seen people photographing them [the pieces of art] so it's exciting."

Duncan added that she hopes the City Council will adopt an ordinance for the Public Art Commission by the end of the calendar year.

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