A few fundamental questions on the on the Chester Ski Jump Memorial Plan City of Duluth RFP.

Is not art, true art — spoken, written, painted, sung, or mixed media — an expression of that which comes from places that are intangible or elusive? i.e.: from within, a collaborative, the Netherlands, the proverbial Vibe?

Yes, the history of a place, lived out by a people is vital — I get that (and the real magic still is to have been there and lived it out) — however, most of us probably don’t have that benefit.

But a request put out on an RFP – a bid – along with city hall upgrades and roofing repairs not only diminishes the call, but is the antithesis of artistic inspiration. Just my opining.

What “artist” ever had a timetable? Really, have you ever known or lived with an artist who loves this aspect of their work? What artist succumbs to “qualification criteria,” or “Response Format” nonsense?

I guess my point is this: A calling to express the historical significance of a place, a people, the risks they took, possibly died for, and telling the story through expression is noble.

But art — respectable art, my observation — is provoked by something beyond oneself. Ask the Thomas Coles, Salvador Dalis, Lou Reeds, C. S. Lewises, Joan Miros, Robert Frosts, Jonathan Edwards or Joni Mitchells of this world.

What is selling out as an “artist”?

Crap, this kind of rant may lead to hiring of more consultants.

Sincerely, your fellow funder.


Nick L

about 9 years ago

It's reasonable to expect a public art project to follow public bid procedures.  How would it look if Jamie Ness got $15,000 to compose ski jump songs?  Also, it would be frustrating if we're still waiting for an artist's Muse to arrive two years from now.  

I very much appreciate Midnight Taco's sentiment and insight into inspiration.  

I would also buy a Boomchucks album of ski jumping songs.


about 9 years ago

Nothing recognizes the rich history of Chester Park and ski jumping like cutting down old trees, building private residences and putting up the cell tower.


about 9 years ago

Wow, where to start?  I'm confused as to what I'm supposed to take away from your comments.  Your discomfort - at funding public art, this specific project, artists asked to provide credentials and expected to act professionally, artistic inspiration in general?

Most professional artists should also be considered design professionals.  Their art requires the generation of an idea and then a plan of how best to manifest that idea within a certain time frame, budget and materials limitation.  This idea can come from within, but it is equally valid if it assigned by others.  This is no different than how an architect, composer or graphic artist has to work.  So it seems only natural to give artists the same respect of inviting them to participate in the project.  

Secondly, good public art is disciplined hard work, and most artists who would respond to this RFP are excited by the challenge of interpreting the design parameters through their unique way of working.  

Thirdly, when a visual artist has a gallery or museum show for example, he or she usually has to produce some kind of credentials so that the curator knows the artist can deliver on providing enough work for the exhibition which is usually scheduled months or even years out.  This  requirement is not a problem for serious artists.

I use the term serious artist for someone who defines themselves professionally as an artist in the same way an attorney, carpenter, or dentist defines their position in their business - meaning they get up in the morning and that is what they do.  They are not amateurs or hobbyists; they go to their workspace and have work to get done.  The artists you mentioned are serious or we wouldn't know of them, but how can you possibly know what inspired Thomas Cole et al  unless you knew them personally and heard the premises of their work.  You state "But art ... is provoked by something beyond oneself." How is the scope of this project not from beyond the artist?  

Just some thoughts provoked by your questions...

the Midnight Taco

about 9 years ago

Hi Kaye 
I guess my angst is from a few things; I have trouble funding public art projects at a time when our City has other fiscal concerns, I did not verbalized this however. 

I personally think using the term 'professional artist', to me is conflicting. Kind of like comparing the motives of a mercenary vs those of a warrior who fights for a set of beliefs. 

I've always thought it ironic that, I'm pointing to a possibly small percent of artists, who are making a living, perhaps I would say as opportunists, while the other variety of artists whom I favor, inadvertently fulfill the financial objectives of their counterpart artists only in death but remained true to their internal calling.  

I'm an absolutely politically incorrect art snob when it comes to motive, like the mercenary, that enterprise in my book is short lived.

the Midnight Taco

about 9 years ago

Correction to my last line: Like the opportunist compared to the mercenary, that enterprise is short lived.


about 9 years ago

I don't understand why an artist getting paid for their work makes them like a mercenary.  Since when haven't warriors been paid, even when they believed in the cause?  If an artist is talented, works hard and has success, how is that wrong?  Why would you deny an artist the possibility of earning a living from doing what is their  native ability?   As I asked earlier how can you know what is an artist's inspiration, how can you be sure that you know their motive or true calling?  As I understand it, if someone earns a living as a professional artist then you consider them a mercenary with impure motives.   Yet some of the artists you cite in your original post certainly earned money- some earned a lot of it, were they mercenaries or pure warriors?

These comments don't sound  politically incorrect as much as they sound naively grandiose about how the art around us gets made.

Nick L

about 9 years ago

This fiscal conservative is OK with spending my tax dollars on public art.  It's a minor percentage of the overall budget.  Public art isn't as important as sewage disposal, public works crews and fire fighting equipment.  It should not be a big expense until we have smooth streets.  However, I think art is an important part of a community.

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