Can Artists Improve Ugly Parts of Cities?

Mitch Horst, our own ‘Sage of Omaha’ writes:

‘Art’ is a funny concept in America these days. Everyone is ‘for’ it, in the abstract, but too many still have this sense of ‘art’ as something stuffy and elitist. Something inaccessible, suitable for museums, concert halls, and rich people’s homes.

Art, though, isn’t all so hoity-toity. There have always been subversive artists like Bansky, but that’s not what I mean. I refer to buskers and public performers. To artists who paint murals in public spaces and on the sides of their own buildings just to beautify their own town, and the people who fund them. This isn’t art as the creation of enduring treasures, but as a conversation between the artist and the public about what life is, and should be. About what their city is, and could be.

The Brazilian Arts Ensemble made headlines not long ago when a video of them performing for New York City subway travellers went viral.

This is the kind of thing that I mean. Artists bringing beauty to an otherwise fairly dismal part of thousands of people’s days. This is the kind of thing we should be supporting.

I don’t mean ‘we’ as in government funding, either. There is a large structure of public arts funding in place already, and it does a fantastic job – but not an innovative one. I mean we, as in you and I, and anyone else we can rope in. Several people have proposed funding small, almost guerrilla arts movements in cities all across the US via crowd funding.

Imagine this in Omaha – hearing a string quartet, or a jazz band, or any local artist you can name playing in Central park Mall – not a ticketed performance, not a concert or a performance, just people making music in a public place? Imagine a few members of the Omaha Symphony setting up as buskers in the Old Market, and donating whatever makes it into the hat to charity.

I think we should make a go of it this spring. I can whistle. Who’s got a guitar?

The Editor Writes:

The following link is froma project in Glasgow, Scotland

Join The Discussion