Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Risk of Exhibiting Public Art

I was hoping to be able to get a last photo of my work at Bartlett Yards, the site of the former MBTA Bartlett Bus Yard in Roxbury, MA, because I was curious about how it weathered over the summer. But, I received this message last night:

"I have some sad news for you. As you know, we've had an ongoing vandalism problem and many of the works have been damaged. Unfortunately, none of your pieces survived. The curtains on the windows covered in plywood made it almost all the way to the end, but about a week ago someone ripped them down.
Sorry to have to tell you this, but the whole place is going to be torn down soon anyway so it was inevitable.”
Here was my reply:
"Well, that's not the first time my work has been stolen! Actually, it's the second time. I'm not surprised, seeing that you mentioned there was a lot of vandalism. Oh well. I hope whoever took it enjoys it. PLEASE don't think I'm angry about it. It's part of the process of doing public art, and I'm OK. It's just a shame that things like that happen."

Above are pictures of my work after they were installed at Bartlett Yards in May. There are additional images on my websiteThe two window coverings were attached to two boarded up windows. The surrounding work on the walls is by Juan Santos. The window coverings measured 48" square, not including the bottom, scalloped edge. They were made of monoprints of the grids of construction fences on fabric, which was coated so they were weather resistant. 

I actually made three coverings, but I only needed two in the end, so the third is hanging in my studio. I’m glad that I still have one at least.

I'd like to say thank you the organizers of Bartlett Yards for all that they did to make the project happen. It was really an incredible experience for the artists and the community. I hope to be able to participate in a project like that again.

UPDATE: I found out that the fabric on the windows was ripped off so they could tag the wood underneath it. So while it wasn't exactly stolen, it was vandalized to make a space for someone else's art. Not very nice, but that's still part of the risk of exhibiting public art. Sigh.