Oak Cliff-based artist Art Garcia’s sculpture “Seventh” is pictured in D Magazine this month. Unfortunately, the Bishop Arts District sculpture is next to an insulting headline: “DESIGN FLAW Dallas has plenty of public art. Why isn’t any of it good?”
The article, by Peter Simek, contends that Dallas considers public art an afterthought. The city is more concerned with quantity than quality when it comes to public art. And, he notes, we don’t have anything like The Bean in Chicago.
In criticizing the city’s public art, Simek is criticizing Dallas artists. While The Bean creator Anish Kapoor is Brittish and has no real connection to Illinois, most of the public art in our city was designed and created by artists who live here, in Dallas.
We asked Garcia what he thought of D’s perspective, and whether he was offended to have his work used as the poster for “bad” art. He said he considers it a “badge of honor”:
“I think it was nice gesture to select ‘Seventh’ … a nice iconographic image. It will only attract people to the Bishop Arts District, and thats the value of public art. The article speaks from the ‘real art’ stand point that wants to dictate its values on the public. Is everyone going to like it? Of course not. That’s the chance an artist takes when we’re willing to display our artwork on such a broad stage. Otherwise, we’d display in a safe art venue whose audience tends to be much more narrow.”
Simek suggests the city’s call-for-entries process should be altered. There should be less bureaucracy and more artist involvement. And art should be a consideration from the very beginning of a project instead of something squeezed in at the end. I doubt many Dallas artists would disagree with those contentions. We just wish D had pointed to “bad” art in some other part of town.