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The Town of Westlake is on the brink of becoming a major player in the world of Public Art with the exciting announcement of the official kick-off of their public art competition. Town Council, Staff, and the Public Art committee will help guide the Town of Westlake in its search for an innovative approach to creating art that will do much more than fill an open space, but instead, will energize the landscape by combining our environment, our land, and our architecture to uplift our community.
This partnership between the committee and the Town is truly unlike anything else. The two entities will work together to create art competitions that will garner the attention of artists from around the world to be a part of this special opportunity. This first competition, which began in mid-November, will focus on a work of art that would be placed on the corner of Dove and Davis in front of the new Fire-EMS Station. More detail about the site is contained within the Public Art Request For Qualifications (RFQ).
How this partnership will differ from others is that the committee won’t be searching for existing work that can be bought from an artist who will work under contract for a predetermined price. The typical outcome of this approach often lacks a holistic purpose and is more subject to personal preferences. Instead, the committee will bring the artists to Westlake to create their work instead of simply buying a piece and dropping it into the Town.
Any artist who participates in the Westlake competition will have an opportunity to be observed by the metroplex art leadership, something very important to finding and cultivating new and emerging talent.
This is important because many emerging artists often go unnoticed by larger audiences. Galleries in the US and Europe are losing money in recent years as the costs to run them go up. As a result, galleries are frequently forced to show established artists with a clear record of retail success. This means galleries are increasingly challenged to perform a key role in sponsoring and promoting new and emerging talent. This is the foundation of Westlake's program, a partnership between the Town, museums, and leading galleries in search of masterpiece and emerging talent. In this way, the Town becomes an important force for art.
The nine-member committee will advise and work with the Town Council as they collectively initiate this and subsequent art competitions. They will also evaluate entrants and curate the event so that a group of highly qualified finalists emerge for Town consideration. The power of their participation will attract the best talent seeking exposure for their own advancement and afford Westlake an unusual slate of entrants.
These competitions will also further bring the arts community and the Town together with its corporate partners. Individual corporations will be able to sponsor the competitions, especially those that would add the art to their own sites. “The value of Westlake’s Art Program to the larger arts community broadens support beyond the corporate limits of Westlake to include the entire metroplex. Thereby fund-raising opportunities are greatly expanded. In addition, incoming corporate citizens can establish closer connections with Westlake as well as the larger arts community through sponsorship support of this effort”, says art advisor to Westlake, Robin McCaffrey.
To understand how this all came about we must first go back to the beginning. In 2007, a public art society was first formed and adopted, with many residents volunteering countless hours to help create the foundation of our town’s first public arts program. In addition, they brought several performing artists to Westlake throughout the years and served with passion, dedication, and understanding of the importance a public art program brings to a community. Unfortunately, most of this group’s groundwork could not be fully implemented due to lack of funding and a more specific plan for public art acquisition and placement.
Fast forward to May of 2016 when Russell Tether of Russell Tether Fine Art and Robin McCaffrey of MESA-Planning were tasked to assist Westlake in taking this initial work of the Westlake Public Art Society and further develop a new public art plan. Later that year, a public workshop was held to gather input on what Westlake residents and businesses would like to see as a part of a public art program in our community.
Residents stressed that Westlake must be the subject of the work and the artist must engage with Westlake in the conceptualization of the piece. This led to the programmatic subdivision of the Town into 4 "Art Settings", regional, Town, open space, and pastoral. In each of these settings, public art has a purpose and each presents aspects of Westlake that must be translated through the vision of the artist.
Then in June of 2017, Town Council officially adopted the new public art plan. Now, the committee is working hand and hand with design professionals, curators, art institutions, and sponsors to create competitions, like the one at the new Fire-EMS Station, to attract artists from around the world.
“From my perspective, as both a resident and Mayor of the Town of Westlake, I am humbled by the gifts of time and talent that the members of the arts committee are making on our behalf. These are all individuals who are incredibly well respected in their field who will be working, pro bono, to make public art come alive in Westlake. It is a tremendously exciting time”, says Mayor Laura Wheat.
Westlake will now play a pivotal role in advancing art through a time of rapid growth and focus the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented by such growth to produce a legacy that future generations will greatly appreciate.
To learn more about Westlake's Public Art initiative, click here. And for more information about the Public Art competition, visit this page on our website.
by: Jon Sasser