Art in Public Places: City, Dublin Arts Council adopt first master plan

Paul Comstock
ThisWeek
Field of Corn (with Osage orange trees), 4996 Rings Road in Dublin, is the Dublin Art Council's third Art in Public Places project. The sculpture includes 109 6-foot-3 ears of corn that stand upright in row patterns. The installation symbolizes the history of the community's farming legacy and serves as a memorial to rural landscapes.

Dublin's internationally known Art in Public Places program will continue to develop with a more formal process than used in the past.

Dublin City Council and the Dublin Arts Council’s board of directors have approved the city's first public-art master plan.

"The planning process was initiated in 2016, prompted by the need to formalize public review for public-art ideas, donations and initiatives, and to affirm compliance to national best practices in public art," according to a March 29 release from the arts council.

"(The master plan) formalizes the process so that we can make sure that everything is according to a plan. I think it was done without a plan from the beginning, so we just wanted to formalize the process," arts council executive director David S. Guion told ThisWeek Dublin Villager. "I think the most exciting part of the plan is developing a public-arts review committee, which we have not had in the past. It will be a group of individuals to help sort of pave the way for public art into the future. I think that's the most exciting part."

Created in 1988, Dublin's public-art program for years has been known for its projects, including a statue of Wyandot leader Leatherlips, a Jack Nicklaus tribute sculpture and its Field of Corn – large statues of ears of corn, flanked by a row of mature Osage orange trees.

"(Dublin's art has) been extremely successful and internationally renowned and on major databases that feature public art around the world,” Guion said. “It's a small community that has a large collection of public art. I think the reason the public-art program was started was to add to the quality of life for Dublin residents and those who work in and visit Dublin."

"I really appreciate the thoughtfulness" that went into the plan, City Council member Christina Alutto told Guion during council's Feb. 22 meeting.

She called the plan "a roadmap on how to think about public art.”

“So as we look at the pieces we currently have and the direction we want to go with additional art pieces in the future, we think about things like location,” she said. “So I really appreciate the thoroughness of the plan."

Council member John Reiner also praised Guion’s efforts.

"I want to thank you for a forward-thinking plan,” he said. “You have entertained our community with interest and hope during a very, very difficult period. So thank you."

Developed in collaboration with the city of Dublin staff and led by noted Los Angeles public-art consultant Helen Lessick, the master plan is designed to guide program development and strategic growth over a 10-year period, the news release said.

The plan identifies public-art projects’ role in emphasizing Dublin’s cultural identity, enhancing community pride and civic engagement. It also provides a framework for project administration, creativity and innovation in civic art, the release said. Additionally, the plan redefines public art to include artist-led permanent, temporary, community and participatory artworks, using best-in-21st-century practices, it said.

The plan also creates a public art review committee, and an advisory committee to review public art proposals and make recommendations to city council, the release said.

The program has produced more than 50 large- and small-scale permanent, temporary and interactive public-art projects, with a permanent collection valued at $3.8 million, it said.

The plan can be reviewed at dublinarts.org/publicart.

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