Westlake’s Public Art Program is a visionary initiative which seeks to promulgate a consciousness of art within the larger culture of the Town and its process of governance. Westlake’s Public Art Program reflects Westlake’s belief that Art and artfulness in the building of our Town should guide its ultimate form. Therefore, Public Art in Westlake is a major identity of Westlake as a place and manifestation of Westlake as a community.
Goals & Objectives
Accomplishing the following five goals is essential to promulgating a consciousness of art in the community and governance of Westlake as well as nurturing a sense of distinctive place for the future:
- Implementing the Town’s Comprehensive Plan: Westlake’s Comprehensive Plan seeks to preserve the Town’s unique and distinctive qualities of place. These distinctions are rooted in history, community, natural environment, and commitment to excellence. Westlake views Public Art as an essential expression of these distinctions which can give form and legibility to the future Town.
- Assuring that Public Art in Westlake is a Masterpiece: Westlake seeks art that is enduring, timeless and a treasure from the present that is given to the citizens of the future. Therefore, all Public Art in Westlake must rise to the status of masterpiece, thereby speaking to the special, and enduring purpose of this Public Art Initiative.
- Working in partnership with the larger Art Community and Art Institutions of the Metroplex: Masterpiece in Westlake should be regarded as such by the larger art community and art institutions who, by their consensus regarding the advancement of art in our society, attribute to a work its importance in the larger culture. Therefore, the Westlake Public Art Program must work in partnership with the art community and art institutions for art in Westlake to be a contribution to the advancement of art in our culture.
- By example, nurturing an artful approach to all that we build and craft: Inspired by the great cities of history where all things were built with the intention of achieving a higher standard in artisanship, craftsmanship, and artful expression, Westlake seeks to rekindle that artful consciousness by setting a public standard for such achievement. Therefore, public buildings, public places, and public artwork hand-in-hand to nurture an artful treatment of, view of, and consideration of all that is built in our Town.
- Facilitating the emergence of future talent: Westlake’s Art Program is built upon the idea of Public Art Competitions that invite emerging talent to present itself to the Town and its partnership with the larger arts community and art institutions. The opportunity of exposure and potential recognition that Westlake affords emerging talents cultivates the great artists of the future. This is also an art legacy which the Town gives to its future generations.
- Establish a record of Westlake’s values, vision, and interaction with its unique natural fabric: The Art that Westlake situates in places that are culturally, cognitively, and naturally important establishes an enduring record of what the community views as valuable, worth preserving, and worth passing into the future.
- Express what the residents and businesses of Westlake value and see as important distinctions separating Westlake from other cities
- Understand what residents see as the purpose and outcome of Public Art in the Town.
- Preserve the natural fabric of the Town and how it should inspire the art
- Facilitate the relationship between art and development over time
- Interpret the relationship between Westlake, artists, and the larger arts community
Westlake’s Public Art Program has its roots in the original development of Solana, a corporate campus originally built for IBM (in the 1980’s) at the intersection of State Highway 114 and Solana Boulevard (in Westlake). When built, Solana was nationally recognized as a combination of art and architecture, having a sculptural presence. Sitting in a landscape design meant to dramatize its solitude and remoteness of the time, the architectural presence of Solana established an artistic relationship with the land that Westlake now seeks to recapture and perpetuate into the future through several means…one of which is a Public Art Program.
This program will, like the original Solana, encourage and nurture the distinctive development of the Town fabric as well as promote and enhance preservation of the Town’s diverse natural mosaic. Distinctive development and natural preservation was a significant concentration of Westlake’s Comprehensive Plan (adopted in 2015). This extensive Comprehensive Plan document, forged through a nearly 2-year process of public input established many goals for which Public Art is the logical means of implementation (pages 109 to 128 of the 2015 Comprehensive Plan Update: Forging Westlake).
Therefore, a Public Art Plan (extension of the Comprehensive Plan) was formulated which built upon the important work already done by the Westlake Public Art Society. While the earlier work addressed a broad range of art forms (visual art, performance art, etc.) the Public Art Plan focused on physical art in the public landscape. Public input was brought to the Public Art planning effort in the form of a discussion workshop where purpose and intended effect of Public Art was deliberated.
As a result, Westlake was divided into four “Art Settings”, each with a different expectation regarding the impact of Public Art in these locations. A primary recommendation of the final plan was to address the potential of the Art Settings through a Competition Process in which the Town will rely upon the expertise of its Art Community/Institutional partners to curate.
Below are the major presentations made to the Town Council as the Competition process evolved.
Public Art presentation from 10-12-16
- This presentation was the introduction to public discussions at the initial Public Art Plan Public Workshop. Here the links between Public Art and the Comprehensive Plan are presented as well as the types of “Art Settings” that can be derived from Comprehensive Plan Development Framework. Finally, the types of “purpose” which Public Art can serve in each setting is laid out. This information became the topic of discussion in smaller break-out groups. Each break-out group was organized around one of the art settings proposed. You can learn more by clicking here for the entire presentation.
Public Art presentation from 1-23-17
- This presentation was an update for the Town Council, covering the substance of the earlier Public Art Plan Public Workshop. The Competition structure is first identified here.
Public Art resolution from 2-27-17
- This presentation was a summary PowerPoint delivered to the Town Council as they considered adoption of the Westlake Public Art Plan. The Presentation starts with the Comprehensive Plan, includes a history of Public Art in Westlake, and covers all steps which contributed to the formulation of the Public Art Plan, before them at that time. You can learn more by clicking here for the entire presentation.
Public Art vs. Art in Public Places
Art in Public Places suggests that Art is situated in a public domain (e.g. a round-about, a plaza, a street median, a trailhead, etc.) and thereby enriches the space. This is the most common type of public Art as most Cities and Towns come to the implementation of a Public Art initiative after that city or town is mostly built. The art so placed is, for the most part, ornamental in purpose and is subordinate to the space in which it resides.
However, Public Art is somewhat different because it influences the shape, alignment, and pattern of space which evolves around it. This is the way Rome was built. The boat fountain at the base of the Spanish steps (in Piazza di Spagna) was originally erected on the muddy banks of the Tiber River.
It was more than 200 years later that the Spanish Steps were built (largely in response to the art that preceded it) and development around the boat fountain was mostly completed. This is the history of great Public Art in great cities throughout the world. The Art is part of their history and is an evolving record of their achievements. Poised for growth and development, Westlake is, at present, largely unbuilt.
Therefore, Westlake has a unique opportunity to consider and implement Public Art as the Town grows…and…like other great/ timeless places create a Town environment that future generations will thank us for.
The Westlake Public Art Competition Advisory Committee (WPACAC) was created to provide professional guidance and experience to developers, corporations, citizens and leaders of the Town of Westlake. The Committee is comprised of nine regionally influential members, with a national reputation, representing the following areas of expertise:
- Curators, representing some of the top museums, independent curatorial consultants, and corporate collections in the region and providing an overview of the cultural importance and enduring significance.
- Art Dealers, representing major galleries, having familiarity with artists, and understanding market trends as well as providing resources and commercial accountability of proposed projects.
- Art Advisors, conversant in the interests of major collectors and providing insight to evolving movements and trends.
- Architects who are designers and registered professionals, providing insight regarding the relationship between what is built and the art that influences it.
- Urban Planners, who are certified practitioners providing insight into the relationship between the form of human settlement and the place of Public Art within it. Thereby, assuring the full integration of art into the community fabric of Westlake.
The strategic combination of these professionals within the WPACAC provides the Town of Westlake with one of the most knowledgeable and scholarly Art Committees in the country.
Art Competitions have greatly advanced the evolution of art in their time. Art Competitions are effective because they challenge artists to meet the stated requirements of the competition structure, which are usually an outgrowth of cultural advancement, maturing community awareness, or the desire of a culture to express its essential values. Thereby, art competitions define a place in the dynamic extension of the cultural sphere that can only be filled by art itself. Building upon this tradition, Westlake has determined that the Art Competition process is the best way for the Town to:
- Bring established and emerging art talent to the Town
- Forge a partnership between Westlake and the larger Metroplex Art Community/ Art Institutions.
- Raise the significant funding that great Public Art will require.
- Nurture a Town Collection that is inspired by the very nature of the Town itself and what is considered important to its residents.