Friday, April 22, 2011

Draft letter for public art: please comment!

[I want to send this letter, or something like it, next week. Medford is creating a new 7-year Open Space and Recreation Plan to lay out priorities for upcoming projects.]

Dear Lauren DiLorenzo,

I encourage you to include planning for public art as a key component of the new Open Space and Recreation Plan you are developing for Medford. Public art inspires people, engages communities, and enlivens public spaces. Public art provides highly visible opportunities to improve neighborhoods, to support local artists, and to involve children, teens, and community members.

When we paint a wall, we have an opportunity to paint a mural. When we rehab a field or park, we have an opportunity to install a sculpture. When we create a path, we have an opportunity to add interesting designs in the path itself. When we order park fixtures such as benches or lights, we have an opportunity to commission some of those fixtures from local artists and craftspeople. The value of our community increases when we seize these opportunities.

Boston’s Public Garden would not be the same without the Make Way for Ducklings statues. New murals in Arlington, Somerville, Malden, and right here in Medford have fostered community pride and turned kids into artists. Union Square recently added diverse and functional art benches. Art such as this in public spaces draws people in, changes their interactions with those spaces, and makes spaces memorable.

The McGlynn School playground is a perfect example of thoughtfully incorporating public art, with its colorful ground design showing the historic contours of the Mystic River and the distinctive curving wall following that contour. We can expand on that success across Medford, giving each playground its own signature artistic component for people to explore. We can include display space in our recreational facilities for rotating art displays, benefiting our artists (whether they are students, professionals, or amateurs) and bringing art to new venues and wider audiences. That is a future I personally want for our city, and I know that I am not alone. When the Medford Arts Council most recently surveyed Medford residents in 2009 to find out what projects should be our highest priority, more than 100 people (half of our respondents) said that they wanted to see more public art in Medford. The Open Space and Recreation Plan can and should respond to that need.

There are numerous arts groups in Medford who would be delighted to offer suggestions and feedback. Please let me know if I can help put you in touch with them.

Sincerely,
...

4 comments:

ralfasso said...

I like and I agree,

Vardibidian said...

An excellent letter--and you should send it to newspapers, sites, etc as well.

My only editing comment is that the double if-then in the fourth graf seems to me to clash with the triple when in the second. I might change the wording in that later one to something like We can expand on that success across Medford, giving each playground its own signature artistic component for people to explore. We can include display space in our recreational facilities for rotating art displays, benefiting our artists (whether they are students, professionals, or amateurs) and bringing art into new venues and wider audiences.

That's just a fiddle, though; it's very good just how it is.

Thanks,
-V.

Michael said...

Thank you -- the "if" construction was bugging me too, since I want the letter to present a forceful positive vision.

Michael said...

Sent to the Office of Community Development, the mayor's office, the consulting firm hired to work on the Open Space plan, and representatives from a dozen local arts groups. Let's see if it has any effect.