The art of protecting public art

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By Shanna Robb

Special to the Town Crier

According to The American’s for the Arts, a nationally recognized organization, “Public art activates the imagination and encourages people to perceive more deeply the environment they occupy.” Art projects, such as Idyllwild Deer Sightings, help stimulate the local economy and provide an avenue for residents to solidify their personal attachment to their community.

Following in the steps of cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia and Amsterdam, Idyllwild Deer Sightings is a gift to its residents. As its first public art exhibition in Idyllwild, the Art Alliance of Idyllwild took a major leap forward when it committed to this highly visible and costly endeavor.

Thanks to the creative involvement of 25 local artists and the collaboration of both sponsors and site hosts, our community is now graced with 22 uniquely painted deer and a custom-made metal sculpture.

After three months in the hands of the artists, the legacy of this project is now officially in the hands of the community. The torch the artists ignited can only stay lit by the joint efforts of those living here.

While AAI will perform ongoing inspections, residents’ active involvement to protect public art is not only necessary, it is critical.

AAI is realistic that some individuals will blatantly disrespect public art, as do those who climb the monument, yet they are depending on the community to help educate. Starting within our own homes, families are encouraged to teach their children to respect public art. Community members as a whole are reminded not to touch the sculptures, as the life expectancy of the paint will be significantly impacted.

Whether the sculptures remain permanently installed for public viewing depends on whether the pieces are respected.

AAI is asking for community cooperation in educating tourists and unsupervised youth who are sitting on or touching the sculptures. The focus should be on communication not confrontation.

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