No debate — More public art in the DMV, please

In Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, a somewhat bizarre sculpture has stirred the pot, evoking an  equal amount of praise and criticism, the Washington Post reports.

Three Eggs in Space” is a gift from a developer, required by Alexandria (great idea. Can we get more of this, please?) as part of the development of a triangular strip of land once occupied by taxi companies and a takeout. And though there is plenty of moaning and groaning about the stonework, it’s not going anywhere. The art is on public land and legally speaking, isn’t up for debate.

In Portland, Maine, a similar-ish drama played out on the cobblestoned streets of Boothby Square. There, a prominently located piece titled “Tracing the Fore,” a reference to the days when the Fore River lapped at the street before infill was installed in the city, was gradually undermined until the Portland Public Art Committee voted that the sculpture should be moved. The main difference between “Tracing the Fore” and “Three Eggs in Space” is the land they sat on; the former in a public square, commissioned by the city, the latter on a private piece of land that was required to have art by the city, though the city had little say on the content of art that would eventually be placed there.

I almost always say “yes” to public art, even if I hate it. It’s just a nice thing to have in the community, and D.C. is full of it, from the somewhat controversial sculpture project on New York Avenue to the jarring Emancipation statue of Abraham Lincoln in East Capitol Street’s Lincoln Park (below).

A statue of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln Park.

A statue of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln Park.

But art is always subjective, and even before the age of Twitter and anonymous comment board trolls, there was debate on the subject. As long as the debate focuses on the art’s content, not whether to install or not to install public art period, I imagine a good community critique of public installations is to all our benefit. Can we get something nice on Independence Avenue, Tommy Wells?

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