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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Requests For Expression

by 3rd Way

Even after taking my love for the tuning fork proposal into account I am still pleased with the stance Chris Abele is taking against the fat sculpture commission the county was contemplating. Awarding a three quarter of a million dollar commission to a small team for a single work is a terrible idea during tough times for local labor. I love a government that makes grand expenditures on artistic amenities, but such amenities should be utilitarian and targeted to employ local labor and talent.

The county should spend the sculpture money by accepting proposals from local artists and designers and awarding commissions based on proposals artistic merits, benefit to community and ability to employee local labor and talent.

A series of artfully designed benches sprinkled along the lakefront that could serve as both playthings for skateboarders and resting spots for walkers would be great. A series of inspired bus shelters aligned down one of the city's busy thoroughfares could greatly enhance a neighborhood. A multi-flight urban exercise/observation stair tower with an awesome long slide down would be a landmark worth erecting. A cleverly designed renovation project to a County Park owned structure converting it to leasable space able to house a small establishment like the Alterra by the lake or the Northpoint burger place could turn a building maintenance liability into a revenue generating asset. Carving up a parking lot sea of asphalt with imaginative ribbons of runoff absorbing plantings would be a good thing.

Giving out seven $100K projects to local teams of aspiring artists would be far more beneficial to the city than one big chunk going to a single team of established art professionals. Seven $100K creative construction projects would help keep locals employed and make our community a more desirable place to reside.

I am sure that if the county sent out a “Request For Artistic Expression” other hungry locals would come up with better ideas for projects that would improve Milwaukee while providing a little boost to local construction firms and the art/design communities. Abele could probably even find donors willing to put up matching funds. Turn the thing into a yearly competition à la the Marcus Prize and within a few years Milwaukee would be a more interesting and vibrant place.

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