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Public Art in the Capital Region
Published on September 29, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at his visual arts blog, my DG colleague David Brickman writes about public art, specifically the controversy over an abstract 9/11 sculpture in Saratoga, and the exciting Living Walls project in Albany.

Here's an excerpt:

"Amid all the hubbub surrounding the 9/11 anniversary, there was the unfortunate story of how this significant piece of art has been turned into a political football by various folks in Saratoga Springs, who decided they didn't like either the initially approved siting of the 25-foot-tall abstract memorial, or a second proposed location (for a good overview of the debacle, read Tom Keyser's coverage from the Times Union).

It always galls me when people who otherwise do not involve themselves with art suddenly feel entitled to act against it when they see something they don't like being given prominence in public. A couple of significant examples from the recent past include the removal of a long-standing sculpture, which critics compared to a collapsed staircase, from its spot near a government building in downtown Albany; and the very controversial and expensive removal of a monumental Richard Serra sculpture from a public square in Manhattan.

In the Saratoga case, the smell is the same - if this were a bronze image of a thoroughbred horse or a ballerina or a heroic firefighter, I am sure there would have been no outcry. But it's not. It's an abstract sculpture made of 9/11 tower steel, and some people are uncomfortable with what it represents to them, so they consider it their right to spontaneously become public art critics."

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