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Two ‘Cuse artists plan public art fund forum

“Sailors and Soldiers” in Clinton Square is more than a recognizable monument — it’s an asset for the city of Syracuse whose cash value increases over time. Local artists will host a forum to discuss ways to fund public art at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 30, at The Atrium.

“Sailors and Soldiers” in Clinton Square is more than a recognizable monument — it’s an asset for the city of Syracuse whose cash value increases over time. Local artists will host a forum to discuss ways to fund public art at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 30, at The Atrium. Photo by Ned Campbell.

— If you ask Syracuse artist Ty Marshal, public art is more than just a way to beautify a city — it’s an investment.

Take, for instance, the Sailors and Soldiers monument in Clinton Square.

“The metal on that alone has risen in value since it was created in the 1800s,” said Marshal, the curator and artist in residence at The Tech Garden known by many for his re-creation of the Cardiff Giant.

Marshal likens public art to “the city proper collecting art. And yes, collectors collect art because they enjoy its aesthetic beauty, but also they realize it’s an investment.”

Who’s on the panel

Susannah Sayler -- Assistant Professor of Art, Design and Transmedia at Syracuse University; Artist and co-founder of the Canary Project

Maarten Jacobs -- Director, Near Westside Initiative

Stasya Erickson -- Chair, 40 Below Public Art Task Force

Brendan Rose -- Syracuse Public Artist in Residence

Steven Butler -- Executive Director, Cultural Resources Council

Marshall and fellow local artist Courtney Rile are hosting a panel discussion called “Investing in Tomorrow: Future funding for Public Art” from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 30, at The Atrium at City Hall Commons, Hanover Square.

Marshal and Rile hope to help coral the conversation about what a public art fund could look like for the city of Syracuse.

“We realized people were talking about this in various different pockets, so why not bring everyone together, and let’s talk about it out in the open,” Marshal said.

One idea Marshal thinks could work is for the city to place a 1 percent tax on billboards to help fund public art. This has been done with success in Toronto.

“A billboard is something that, in essence, is shoved down our throat,” Marshal said. “There’s no community participation in a billboard. There’s no governing body that tells us whether or not we’re going to see that billboard. It’s a corporation that puts it up, and we’re exposed to its advertising. So it is an interesting thought, to put a percent for art on billboards, because it’s kind of just the opposite of that.”

He urges that the billboard idea is one of many to be entertained.

“We’re encouraging people to come with ideas of how to fund public art, no matter how crazy or innovative those ideas are,” he said. “We’re open to the ideas.”

Ned Campbell is the editor of The Eagle.

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