Sometimes we are better off leaving things alone. Case in point – the new Art Wall.
What was once an eclectic collection of 8 x 4 ft. art panels, beautifully lining the back wall of the Main St. parking lot, now looks something of an incomplete eyesore.
As a two-time participant, supporter and defender of Charlotte Buchanan’s The Artery, I was less than enthused when I heard the Eureka Springs Arts Council decided to revamp the wall – and apparently I was not alone.
For me and many other artists this lack of excitement was partially due to the city’s horrible treatment of Charlotte, and a sense of loyalty to this generous, talented, spirited woman whose original vision brought the artist community together. And, of course, there was the final slap of installing parking meters in front of the panels to teach us uppity artists a lesson.
Many friends chose, however, to participate in the Art Wall and the majority of individual panels now on view are impressive and professional; but the original concept was always more about the collective than the individual – a chance to show us off as an artist community.
The wall as a whole has now been replaced with intermittent panels, exposed two-by-fours nailed to crumbling concrete and generic city ads hawking us as an arts destination, messily assembled behind double-headed parking meters – an unintentional Rauschenberg meets Duchamp, minus the brilliance.
I was not the only person with camera in hand for my morning inspection of the Art Wall. I met a small group traveling from Tulsa who were enjoying the individual panels; I happily volunteered a group shot of them behind Robert Norman’s towering panel. Also shot a semi-professional-looking group of kids shooting a fashion spread in front of Janet Goodyear’s dramatic black and white piece.
Obviously the art still speaks to people, but it has been several months since the official unveiling and I have to assume that this is it – no additional panels, no removal of two-by-fours, no attempt at making the installation aesthetically pleasing. The Art Wall features promotions for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Are they co-sponsors? WWAT? (What Would Alice Think?)
Some very good friends sit on the Mayor’s Arts’ Council and I am thrilled so many volunteer and bring their professional expertise to the table. Their art and business knowledge can only help expand and strengthen Eureka Springs’ standing as an arts destination, and it is exciting to hear that funding for the proposed musical sound sculpture park on North Main is on its way.
So I encourage the arts council to re-examine the Art Wall because, unfortunately, the writing’s on the wall. The Art Wall left as is will do nothing to enhance our city as an artist community or destination.