ATHENS, Ga. — A draft of a proposed master plan for public art in Athens and Clarke County is now available for the public to weigh in.
The plan is the work of Todd Bressi, a Philadelphia-based urban designer and public art consultant who previously developed public art master plans for San Diego, California; and Arlington, Virginia.
Bressi’s local work is being done under a $70,000 contract paid with proceeds of a voter-approved 1 percent special-purpose local option sales tax that will fund a number of infrastructure-related projects, The Athens Banner-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/2cmJQwE ).
The draft summary of the public art master plan sets a broad vision. It strives for an environment in which public art “will be found throughout Athens-Clarke County, in both civic locations and unexpected places, conveying the sense of our creative, culturally diverse community.”
It also aims for public art to “connect people throughout Athens by engaging them in cutting-edge community-based projects.”
Another component of the draft summary of the plan is sponsorships. It proposes sponsorships from businesses and property developers for specific artworks on their properties, such as the “art shelters” that currently serve as bus stops along some Athens Transit bus routes.
The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission and Bressi have sought public input on the public art master plan. That effort has included an online survey and a visit from conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta, a lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The draft summary also reflects Bressi’s push to get the community thinking about public art as more than just stationary artworks, a direction reflected in his decisions to bring Mazzotta, as well as artists Seitu Jones and Wing Young Huie into Athens during the planning process.
Jones, the first artist in residence for the city of Minneapolis, developed a 2013 project in St. Paul, Minnesota, comprising a half-mile-long table aimed at facilitating discussion of access to food and related issues.
Huie, a Minnesota-born photographer, brought his “Chalk Talk” initiative to Athens, in which people are asked to write an answer to a thought-provoking question on a small chalkboard, and then be photographed holding the chalkboard.