As I arrive today, here are some of recent proposals regarding public art projects that I wanted to undertake. I should have given a shout out to Buster in the Slash Pines project.
FAILED 2015 KNIGHT FOUNDATION
Dade County Slash Pines
Palm Beach County law requires the “native vegetation” be preserved during the redevelopment of a site except for extreme hardship. Today, the Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management habitually approves the destruction of “Dade County” and other slash pines. These pines are the major second growth trees that spread naturally after the draining of the Everglades in Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Except for intelligent urban density planning, only the slash pines stand legally in the way of suburban expansion. Under curator and activist Glenn Weiss, various international artists will create performance and temporary installations with the carcasses of slash pines destroyed with the approval of Palm Beach agencies. Building on the lessons of Act Up, Greenpeace, Robert Morris and Arte de Povera, the results will demonstrate the power of the artistic action and hopefully secure the enforcement of the law.
Remake Augusta Savage’s “Harp” from 1939 Worlds Fair
Harlem Renaissance sculptor and art teacher, Augusta Savage, created the harp sculpture for the 1939 World’s Fair. A robed African American choir descends in height inside a giant harp made in the shape of gentle hand. Although known as “The Harp”, Savage’s named the work “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” – the Black national anthem. The 16-foot plaster sculpture was destroyed at the closing of the fair, but small “souvenirs” sculptures and photographs by the famous Smith brothers are extant. Savage was raised in Florida and lived in West Palm Beach during her late teens and 20s. West Palm poet George Currie got her admitted to Cooper Union in NYC. Through open competition, a contemporary sculptor will be hired to remake the work in bronze for outdoor display near the historic Sunset Lounge – the 1920s African American music venue in West Palm Beach. The Sunset Lounge will be purchased for restoration in 2015 by the local CRA. The Harp will be Savage’s only public sculpture in the world.
The small and large mechanical beasts of landart remain untouched as an artistic tool. Hands on training in the use of bulldozers, backhoes, scrapers, loaders and graders could spring a new wave of landart and environmental works to match Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Meirle Ukeles and Maya Lin. This project proposes to send two artists from each Knight City to a specially designed “Heavy Equipment” training school coordinated with the University of Florida certified NCCER Master Trainers. The artist residency will be a mix of artist dialogue, artist experiments and direct earth moving. The artists applying for the training/residency must have a guaranteed project to complete at his/her home city.
Cabbage Palm Choir and other Landscapes
The cabbage palm, “sabal palmetto”, stands strait and topped with a solid 12ft ball of fronds. The Florida native is the infill, workhorse of highway planting strips and city parks. The palms cannot be toppled by hurricane. They survive every drought, thrive in many soils and lives 80 – 150 years. Artistically, we are lazy with the use of palms. I propose to work with city and county park agencies in SE Florida to plants new geometries of cabbage palms. The heavy heads of the palm permits a volume of green rising while the trunks become a colonnade. By planting palms of various heights, solid forms and dense walls can be set in the landscape as objects or space makers. Sacred geometries such as the “choir”, modern fractals and other mathematics will introduce new experiences and ideas in the landscape of South Florida.