Guest Editorial, February 25-28, 2012 | ParkRecord.com

Guest Editorial, February 25-28, 2012

Anita Slevin

First of all, I love Tom Clyde, his column, his sarcastic sense of humor. I get it, really. If only, in the February 18-21 issue, he had stopped at reminiscing about the 2002 Olympics. Unfortunately, he continued: "On other fronts…" When I read, "As a certified non-artist with terribly utilitarian tastes," my immediate reaction was, "Oh, oh, here it comes."

I have art credentials, art degrees, art awards. However, I am always astounded when I hear people say things like, "I know nothing about art, but…" and then continue to share their opinion as if it were indeed fact. I also get that art, like politics and education, is a subject that too many believe is only based on opinion, that art is so broad, complicated and individual that the only "facts" are personal opinion.

But here’s the thing: As with practicing law or running a ranch, the discipline of art really is based on facts, and there are people who can generate reasons and responses based on these facts. As far as the new addition to the Kimball Art Center is concerned, the proposal is just that, one of many possible final outcomes. To suggest that this is the final design is inaccurate and, in my opinion, unfair. The people at the Kimball, who have a well-deserved reputation for quality, will make sure that the final design suits the space.

I also think the reference to the "suitably tasteful and durable hunk of metal" to go in front of (the MARC, yeah it does sound a bit ostentatious) shows some of that same disdainful arrogance that too often is a reaction to public art. People are absolutely entitled to their opinion, but I would like to let taxpayers know that the city doesn’t willy-nilly plunk down art on city property. Citizens should be aware that some of what they see is private art publicly displayed and not paid for with tax dollars. Also, the city relies on recommendations from the Public Art Advisory Board (PAAB), a group of knowledgeable individuals who spend many hours going over RFQs and project proposals and working with artists to ensure that the community gets the highest quality for their money. Check out the murals in the Police Station, the banners at the Ice Arena, and the newly installed work at the Marsac Building, "Sheltering Aspens." No hunks of metal to be seen. PAAB works very hard to avoid "plop art" and is in the process of working with designers and community members to acquire art work suitable to the space.

I’m sorry to single Tom out for my remarks. He is not alone in his opinions but he does have a public forum. My wish is only that people will give a little thought to their belief that their uninformed opinion should carry the same weight as that of people who actually know what they’re talking about. I would not act as my own lawyer; there are too many ways to interpret the law. I have not the slightest idea how cattle are raised other than they need food, water and a place to poop, but it’s probably different from raising cats, right?

Park City resident Anita Slevin is a former member of the Public Art Advisory Board.