Why Public Art is Cool

Me and Alexander Calder's FlamingoThe night before my trip to Chicago I started looking up public art. I found a handy guide to public art in Chicago (all it’s missing is a map) and during a few free hours I wandered around downtown, specifically looking for a few works of art (Picasso, Calder, Gehry, Kapoor) and stumbling across a dozen more (Hunt, Miro, Dubuffet, You Are Beautiful, Chagall, more Calder, Moore, Smith, Piensa, Di Suvero, Kearney and Johnson, among the ones I could identify).

I’ve never done that before–seeking out public art during a vacation. Aside from the fact that I run my own public art site, that seems kind of weird. I like art. Heck, I even minored in it. But I usually don’t go that far out of my way to seek it out. So since I spent part of my vacation checking out art and for the last nine months or so I’ve spent loads of free time checking out public art, I thought it might be time to explore what’s so captivating about public art.
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My Pilgrimage to Chicago

Driving KevinEarlier this week I had a CFCC meeting in Chicago, so I left the wife and child carless and drove 400 miles to Chicago (gas may be expensive, but it was still cheaper than planes or trains). I used to drive that stretch of Interstate between St. Paul and Detroit all the time in college (at least six times per year?), so it was just like old times. I also realized that I haven’t taken a long road trip by myself in a long time. I think 2005 was the most recent, and before that it was probably 2001. I guess marriage does that to you.

I also realized the last time I spent any considerable amount of time in Chicago was 1999 when I lived there for a summer. Welcome to nostalgia land.

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Start Seeing Art Passes 300 Works

International Academy LEAP student self portraitThis week my little side project/hobby, Start Seeing Art, posted its 300th work of public art. No wonder I can’t write a book, I’m too busy with art.

The project’s been a lot of fun. I get to check out cool artwork in the city and I usually bring my daughter along to climb on the sculptures (her most recent favorite is the one she called a “sculpture boat” even though it looked nothing like a boat).

While I do have Google ads on the site, it hasn’t been much of a money maker (maybe $10?). And I don’t expect it to be, at least not yet. It’s really too niche of a site for Google to work well and I need more traffic to attract my own ads. So in the mean time I’m just doing it as cheaply as possible. That means using WordPress and a couple plugins to make it work, though it doesn’t function as cleanly as I’d like. I also haven’t bothered with a real logo or a slick design. I’d love to make a lot of changes, but I can’t justify the time or the money. It’s a real bootstrap project, and for now I’m just putting the time into content. I think the content makes all the difference. When you have 300 works of art it suddenly becomes a lot more useful.

So we’ll see where it goes. Though currently I’m having a hard time keeping up with all the photos I’ve taken. I guess it’s better to load up on photos in the summer when it’s nice, and then when it’s not photo weather I can post them all to the site.

We Installed a Picket Fence

The New Picket FenceLast weekend my father-in-law and I installed a picket fence. Well, maybe I should say he installed it and I helped. I don’t exactly know what I’m doing with projects like that, and he definitely does. But I do have the blister to prove I did my share.

The fence looks pretty amazing. Sure beats chicken wire.

It’s really small, basically one 26-foot section and two short sections (5 and 7 feet). Not a lot of fence, but just enough to close in the yard and be a lot of work. What’s a lot of work? Well, there was a lot of concrete buried in the back yard. Then we hit what I can only assume was the foundation to an old garage.

And let’s just say that me and manual labor don’t go well together. I work with my mind, not my hands, and it shows. Working with my hands more might be good for me, but I’m definitely not good at it.