Ever find yourself marveling at the way grass sways in the wind, filters sunlight or casts shadows across a hillside?
Like art, nature inspires and cultivates a sense of awe.
The town of Jackson has a large canvas in the newly landscaped Broadway Landslide. The hillside gave way after decades of cutting into the slope and leveling the land for commercial building. After one cut too many, the slumping slope posed a public safety hazard, forcing the town to spend $11.2 million in specific purpose excise tax revenue to refortify the hillside.
The latest annual Public Art Plan calls for spending $130,000 in taxpayer funds on art to beautify the newly constructed retaining walls and carefully contoured incline. Such an installation would be the most expensive publicly funded art in town history.
We appreciate art in its many forms but find the rock walls and surrounding natural grasses pleasing to the eye. The landslide stands as a reminder of what happens when humans disrupt nature.
We have no doubt that a public art installation at that location could be thoughtfully executed. But there’s logic in letting the repaired slope stand as is — and it’s pulled hard enough on public purse strings.
Public art advocates also want elected officials to approve a plan to guarantee 1.5% of capital projects be set aside to fund public art. Although other mountain resort towns have effectively used this tool, such a blunt approach feels arbitrary and excessive in a town with inflated construction costs.
The existing practice of planning public art seems to be working. Let’s not tie elected officials’ hands with such a cookie-cutter approach.