Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Public Art Commission to Consider Minto Bridge; Make Music Salem on June 21st

The Public Art Commission meets tomorrow, and at the top of the agenda is a "Proposal for Tribal Art at Peter Courtney Minto Bridge, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde."

What kind of public art will adorn the bridge?
There are a couple of reasons this seems important.

Much of our public art is wedged into "spandrels," inserted or applied as decoration into blank, slack, unused, or other space regarded as surplus in one way or another. The art is almost always a secondary consideration.
The most recent installation of "The Cube" was into a tree well, and the current project for downtown art is to use several other tree wells in corner curb extensions for sculptural installations. I find spacing between the garbage can and mast on "The Cube" rather awkward, and think that it needs a larger space to breathe.

The potential for art on the bridge, conceived in tandem with the bridge construction (though not of course even earlier at design), is at least the possibility to do something more integral. There's a chance to do more than merely layer on a decorative element or add text by an historical marker.

This seems like an especially substantial opportunity, and it will be interesting to learn more about it.

Costume of a Callapuya Indian, 1841, by Alfred T. Agate
(Oregon Historical Society, OrHi 104921)
More importantly, it is also an opportunity to say something meaningful about the hundreds and thousands of years of residents who preceded Jason Lee, other missionaries, and the settlers who, with a great mixture of motives, displaced native residents and disrupted their home lands. As rhetoric of "illegal aliens" heats up again in this election season, there is a foundational act by a body of "illegal aliens" that stands at the origination of our history and heritage here. We can't unwrite this history, but we can at least be more forthright about it.

So this could be an important public moment in our self-understanding. There is Kalapuya Elementary, of course, but few other monuments or art installations come to mind, and this could be more accessible and fully public than anything at the school. The word "Chemeketa" is a street and college name, and largely invisible as a quasi-synonym and placename for the Salem area. Probably our best source at the moment is the gallery at Hallie Ford, the "The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Gallery," and something on the bridge would bring that out into the open and relate it to the landscape, a confluence and seasonal camp site, directly in a way that the gallery installation cannot.

The art on the bridge feels like an important project.

Also on the agenda is continuing work on the installation plan for the downtown pedestals, as well as talk about the possibility of a mural installation.

Summer Solstice Art Project

Playing on the Union St. Bridge, 2012
Separately, not at all associated with Public Art Commission, there is a project for another summer art and music happening! You may remember the street pianos from a few years back.

Another group is working on a similar kind of project.

Make Music Salem is collecting musicians to perform on the Solstice, June 21st.
Make Music Day Salem is an event for people who love music and the joyous sense of community that music can foster. It will be held at numerous locations in Salem every June 21 (the summer solstice), with the first event taking place on June 21, 2016.

Make Music Day Salem is a call to participation: Music by the People, For the People. It is an invitation to all musicians, amateur as well as professional, to sign up to play at one of the available venues and, after practicing up for the big event, to perform on June 21. And it is an invitation to music-lovers to show up at the venues and enjoy the musical offerings.

Make Music Day Salem is a celebration of music of all genres played by and enjoyed by people of all stripes. We plan to have music from Alternative to Bluegrass to Classical to Zydeco. And we hope to have a large turnout from the whole community, celebrating together our shared love of live music. We will be joining over 725 cities around the world to celebrate Make Music Day – so help us make this day unforgettable as we kick off summer with music for all to enjoy!
It is impossible to say how wonderful this is. Check it out, and if you have any inclination at all towards making music, consider signing up for some kind of performance!

1 comment:

MIchael Livingston said...

I'd much prefer having a tree in this "tree well," instead of this so-called art.