Saturday, October 20, 2007

Art for the Masses

I ran across an announcement that the "Make Way for Ducklings" sculpture in Boston’s Public Garden just celebrated its 20th birthday. The bronze pieces by Nancy Schön are one of my favorite pieces of public art. I love seeing kids climb on the back of Mrs. Mallard or petting one of her ducklings following along. The sculpture so engages the user; it is what public art is all about for me.
That’s one reason for instance why I like Chicago’s Crown Fountain or Cloud Gate so much. I don’t care that everyone has to have their picture take at "The Bean". Isn’t that the point? Congratulations to Chicago for developing Millennium Park, a tourist attraction that five years ago was just railroad tracks.
So what does this have to do with Cincinnati? Well, maybe nothing. But maybe some lessons learned like public art should be fun and engaging and maybe a bit whimsical. And as places like the Central Riverfront Park are executed, this needs to be remembered and reinforced.

Fun Facts:
  • Mr. & Mrs. Mallard's ducklings are named Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack
  • Robert McCloskey, author of the book on which the sculpture is based and dedicated, is from Hamilton, OH. As a kid my mom would take me to storyhour at the Lane Public Library's Robert McCloskey Children's Room.


5chw4r7z said...

I was just in Chicago last month and we took a million pictures of the Cloud Gate sculpture. Cincinnati does have one work of art that everyone gets their picture in front of. The Genius of Water.
But I know what you mean about art. Julian Stanczak's hard-edged abstraction on the north side of the Fifth/Third garage I liked from the beginning, but yesterday as it was getting dark, I realized just how awesome it really is. Tarbel was working on some stuff to require all new construction to devote 1-2% of the buildings budget to public art which I totally support. Art is one of those intangibles that make a space that much better, another peice of the puzzle that Cincinnati is finally putting together.

Dan said...

I agree that Genius of Water is probably our best public art. And I never thought about it being so photographed (like Cloud Gate)!
I like Stanczak's piece even better at night! The lights really animate it a bit more. But I walked by the other night and the lights were off. Hate that.