Art opens the eyes, and publicly visible art also opens conversations, as we are witnessing these days. So far, Main Street is pretty safe from public art that outrages, and Jim Fox is no Robert Mapplethorpe. He’s a realtor, for heaven’s sake.
When I installed the “Alphabet Chair” by Sarah Peters in front of Eight Cousins in 2003, the town said nothing, though there may be people who didn’t care for it. I myself am not drawn to the “Reading Dog” sculpture presently on display, but every time my eye captures “Flying Jenny,” it makes my heart fly like the little girl herself.
Once upon a time Falmouth had a Committee to Encourage Public Art, started in the late 1990s. The main result was Peters’ beautiful historic plaques next to the sidewalk in front of the public library. It took years of fundraising, wrangling, and disputation to find a place for them, and the committee, exhausted, dissolved when that project was completed. Someday those plaques should be set in a wall at a low eye level, where their detail and superb design are easier to see.
Sue Beardsley’s delightful metal creatures enliven many a corner of this town. Many another town is poorer for want of a Sue Beardsley (and patrons) among their citizens. And Alfie Glover’s bright flights of fancy make ordinary places special.
I have pretty well retired my fantasy that Town Hall Square should contain a splash fountain for young waders. But I still dream of a dozen or so pedestals, firmly anchored, in public locations, to which sculptures could be attached, securely but temporarily, to open more eyes and more conversations.