The recent article on the empty statue bases (”4 Confederate statues stood as Baltimore landmarks. Now, their pedestals stand ready to send a new message. But what?” March 26) sparked some lively discussion in our household. Imagine these bases as places for rotating displays of new art by Baltimoreans. “Baltimore Stands for Art” could offer a colorful, dynamic schedule of new installations every year.
While the city already has a monuments commission, perhaps a new governing and programming board could lead the effort. The board could be as diverse as the city and comprised of local community and youth leaders, artists, educators, funders and public-private leadership. With community support, the board could select common themes or topics for a year in advance and provide grant assistance for some proposals — or each community could celebrate its own themes or identities in other years.
Walking and cycling tours could link the bases (”rounding the bases?”) and observers could connect to maps, supporting background information, spoken word and local music via mobile phone. Every year, the new art could be unveiled on the same day, perhaps during ArtScape, or on separate community festival days in each surrounding neighborhood. The area around the bases could host a larger local artist exhibition and market.
Over time, new or pop-up bases could be added for other neighborhoods. The art could be returned to the artist, donated, auctioned or sold per agreement between the artist and board. And then a new year, new art.
Most importantly, the program would emphasize the future and opportunity for many artists, rather than just a few, to have their work publicly displayed in what was once known as the Monumental City. While other cities struggle and dawdle with their own monumental questions, Baltimore could lead the way. Baltimore Stands for Art would speak to the city’s future, because the only thing that is permanent is change. It’s worth another look upward.
David, Fran, Charlie and Frank Minges, Baltimore
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