As winter is slowly giving way to warmer weather, the remaining installation of statues from the Hanna and Peter Woicke Collection is resuming. For those who are unaware of this collection and would like to see images and placement locations, please refer to the website of the Public Arts Committee (PAC) on www.chestertownpublicarts.com
A 24th November 2023 letter to the editor of The Spy, submitted by Ms Karen Paul Mack, discussed the pending installation of a sculpture entitled Head. In it, she sets out her objections to Head being installed in Fountain Park. I urge everyone to find and read this letter as it generated 17 comments:13 readers objected to the installation
3 readers supported the installation
1 reader asked that a vote be taken but questioned putting another statue in ‘our tiny park’.Based on readers’ replies, it would appear more people have concerns about what is installed in the park than not. As such, The Public Arts Committee and Town council should provide more public transparency and pay (closer) attention to public opinion.To wit, after finding photographs and locations of the 13 already installed sculptures and the 2 soon-to-be installed sculptures on the PAC website last week, I noted there were no photos of the 11 sculptures still to be sited. Could photographs, locations and tentative installment dates now be provided?I do appreciate it gets complicated if a town consensus is required each time a decision needs to be made. However, I believe the Public Arts Committee and the Town Council are not doing enough to communicate about their decisions in a timely way that encourages feedback and allows response.
Given the number of objections, I expected to read further updates. But there seems to be no updates or comments in the public domain that are easily accessible. In the minutes of a 12th December 2023 meeting of The Public Arts Committee (PAC) a discussion of Head is summarized as follows: “ They addressed concerns of a few Garden Club members about placement as inappropriate to the feeling of Fountain Park and that no other should go into the park. Discussion ensued and the committee decided to move forward with installation plans as due diligence has been followed. In light of the concerns it was decided to keep the approved location but to shift the orientation of the work towards High Street.”
This decision by the PAC to reorient Head was not easily discovered. I had to search and eventually found it in the minutes quoted above. I believe it would have been helpful had it been placed in The Spy as a follow up to Ms Mack’s letter so readers would be kept informed. Without published updates, readers remained unenlightened about the impact of this letter.
The issue here is about the placement of a sculpture in the park. Art has always been subjective and modern art possibly more so. People are entitled to their opinion about what this sculpture looks like and reminds them of. But for me, the issue is whether any new sculpture should be sited in Fountain Park, and whether others will then follow.
Fountain Park is the center of our town, maybe its heart. A special place in Chestertown. Hebe is well loved and the fountain is unique in terms of design and color. Here is where special events take place and where people look to congregate. Even Santa knows his first appearance of the season is there.
Public statues seem to disappear in cities and larger towns but in small towns like Chestertown, the inverse is true. Statues become move visible. That is why this issue is so important.
My objection is not about Head. Rather it is about placement. Fountain Park needs no further visual support from another piece of art, modern or otherwise.
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