Sunday, November 15, 2009
The Confluence of Art and Function in Roanoke
The City of Roanoke, in a noble effort, is pushing art toward its citizens and some of its effort is working. As with all art, some works, some doesn't--depending on the critic--but it's all worthwhile. One of the more interesting efforts coming from a department headed by Susan Jennings, who for years led the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge, are the two school bus stops under construction.
The one here is at Patrick Henry High School (explaining the colors) and will be dedicated Monday, Nov. 23 at 11:45 p.m. This is a school bus stop the likes of which I've never seen and I'm not sure how to feel about it. The artwork is certainly interesting, but is it functional? If you have a question about whether function is important, join the students waiting on a bus one rainy morning.
The roof of this structure, composed of a kind of plexiglass, spreads out like a fan, but there are no sides to break wind (so to speak) and the roof doesn't cover much space. But, hey, beauty often has its shortcomings.
This shelter is an effort led by Basset artist Ed Dolinger, working with Patrick Henry students and teacher Jennifer Fowler. Restoration expert Chris McBride and brick mason John Johnson also contributed significantly. John put together the marvelous tile scene (with heavy phallic overtones) made by the PH students.
I like the idea, the delivery and the look. But I'm not so sure it's going to do its first job: keeping students warm and dry as they wait for the bus.