Friday, January 14, 2011

Aren't Roanoke Artists Good Enough for the Market Building Commission?

I don’t want to sound overly provincial about this, but I’m tired of Roanoke City treating its own citizens like hayseed outlanders when it comes to the historic Roanoke City Market Building.

We didn’t have an architectural engineering firm good enough to do the re-design, according to the city, and now we don’t even have an artist capable of presenting public art for the entryways. (I've screamed bloody murder from the beginning about Spectrum not getting the architectural work because its proposal was far superior to the out-of-state company that won it.)

“A citizen selection panel” has selected artists from Maryland, California and Florida as finalists to decorate the four entryways. The finalists were picked from a pool of 35 responders to a “Request for Qualifications issued by the City,” according to a press release. The selection committee, says the release, included “arts professionals, community volunteers and members of the Roanoke Arts Commission.”

At a time when arts organizations would do well to cooperate with each other, the artist selected for this task should have been picked by a professional team from the Taubman Museum and the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge, the premier organizations that deal with art, and the damn artist should have been local.

There is absolutely no reason in the world to go to Los Angeles to find artwork for our crown jewel of a city market. This is a continuation of the shameful attitude that our people aren’t good enough. Our artists and architects are, indeed, good enough. Maybe our city government is the one coming up short.

This casual and cavalier ignoring of our local artists and other local professionals for our best projects simply has to stop.

12 comments:

  1. That is very sad, especially in light of the fact that we have such incredible artistic talent in and around the Valley.

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  2. Thanks, Dan. I completely ponder the thinking here. Were local artists even contacted about the possibility of public art? Were the "request for qualifications" sent to local artists? And it's sad that local architects and/or local contractors seemd to have been overlooked in the process. Sheesh... while it makes sense to me to think global yet work local, I guess that's too mundane a concept for many.

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  3. I agree with everyone. There are so many wonderful local artists in the Roanoke area and the Market Building is a wonderful reflection of the Roanoke area's history.

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  4. Roanoke's thinking is almost as hidebound as Lynchburg's. There are incredible architects and contractors here in the Roanoke Valley. Who better to spearhead the renovation of this historic building? And, who better to bring further beauty and knowledge of the area than our many talented local artists?
    Perhaps new leaders will understand what is really needed here.

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  5. Thank you for posting this. I am appalled. At no time in recent years have I seen ONE thing about a group looking for public art or artists to work on this building. I know I live outside Roanoke, but I read the news and follow the activities carefully. All I ever read about were the rats or the restaurants who had to move out. I will bring this up at the Advisory Board mtg on Jan. 19th for the Taubman. Thank you. I am disgusted that they went outside the area for art!

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  6. This is unbelievable. Artists from outside the area shouldn't even have been considered. What a great public relations event it WOULD have been for the city to champion its local artists. Of course, the city went outside the state for its rebranding campaign as well. Par for the course.

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  7. This bites my ass.

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  9. This would have been a wonderful showcase for some of the many talented local artists. Too bad the powers-that-be blew it. Again.

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  10. As a local artist and a member of the Roanoke Arts Commission, I would like to let everyone know that local artists were eligible and informed about the project. While I was not on the selection committee and, therefore do not know how many Roanoke artists applied, I have served on other projects and I know each applicant is given equal consideration pertaining to artistic concept, experience and how well the proposed piece fits the criteria. We also always try to include regional artists when possible.

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  11. There are probably things we don't know publicly... like, 1. Many of our artists say they wanna do things, then are slow to produce or just don't (not all, of course), 2. Locals are generally not offered compensation (whole 'nuther conversation), 3. Jealousy factor when someone is chosen over another (typical in-fighting), 4. General apathy to the gods in the valley, but no one will name names as that would be career suicide (like their careers rode on the gods' opinion of them), and 5. Some artists have plain given up on anything involving the mainstream and are doing their own thang without paying into or paying attention to orgs 'round here.

    But I still love ya Dan for bringing these things up... even when I commit career suicide through my reactions.

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