Friday, March 03, 2017


Russ Connell - "Stella", 2016.
Welded Corten Steel. 3' x 3' x 6.5' repost

For several years I have judged the Art on Henderson Project, but I haven’t thought much about what this art is really doing for the community it serves. After all, this project is suppose to beautiful the street and attract people to visit the neighborhood. Is this art also changing the area and raising its profile which attracts developers? How does the community on Henderson see this art venture?

There has been a bit of an uproar in Los Angeles by activities over art galleries “ruining the neighborhood” by gentrifying spaces with art. Picking on art galleries for needing cheap rent might grab headlines, but this argument lacks an understanding of how cities organically change and grow. Locally, Giovanni Valderas has been questioning the developers in the DFW area about their gentrifying neighborhoods without creating a space for rooted residences. But at least, Valderas asking for dialogue. He isn’t point fingers and blaming people. Change in a city is organic, ebb and flow, a mix between the city planners visions, the invisible hand of the market, and a even just a few individual choices can change an area in a city.

When traveling down North Henderson Avenue I stopped in at Muse, a salon, where I meet with Todd Faulk, he notices a great deal of change over the years. New construction, restaurants, and residence have replaced some older buildings. Some empty lots are now under construction. His clients sometimes spoke about the sculptures and Faulk felt that the sculptures sometimes seemed to also fit the businesses or spaces where they were installed. But the Pokemon Go craz seemed to attract the most attention for the sculptures over the summer, because these objects became notable sites in the game. Faulk saw a positive to sculptures and I got the impression he was mostly positive about the changes on his street.

Individual pieces also had an impact. I stop at a place called Jakes where I saw the winning piece by Elizabeth Akamatsu. I talked to a manager, J.P. Miller about what he thought of the art on the street. He seemed excited about the project and was happy to see the artist have a get together at Jakes for the instillation of her piece. I also dropped by Planet Blue, a clothing store, to see third place winner Dasha Wright’s piece. I can’t confirm, but from indications of Planet Blue sales clerk, more than a few photos have been taken of the piece. I am assuming of the selfie persuasion.

I drove up and down the street looking at pieces, but also I started taking note of the surrounding area. It gave me pause as I soaked in the art and the environment around the objects. Sometimes, you can’t see the forest for the trees, and on this occasion I am guilty. The next time I look at 2017 sculptures, I will have to make note of the surroundings and think about how it impacts the viewers and those that live with the pieces for two years.

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