Ten pieces would dot island for part of 2020
on May 23, 2019
BY TIM RIEL
The town council Monday night enthusiastically endorsed a plan that would turn Conanicut Island into a blank canvas for the Jamestown Arts Center.
“It’s just a wonderful idea,” said Mary Meagher, vice president of the council.
Tom Farrell, Mary Hall Keen and Molly Dickinson pitched the proposal, which will commemorate the organization’s 10th anniversary by providing “a publicly accessible example of extraordinary arts brought to our community through outdoor installations.”
The public art committee already approved a motion at its meeting last week to “supply collaborative and provisional support” for the project.
These 10 installations, which would be scattered on private property and public land in 2020 from July through October, will be determined by a competitive process to match artwork with their surroundings. For example, the transfer station could host an installation made from recycled material, Dickinson said.
According to the proposal, the arts center was seeking permission from the council to consider municipal properties for the installations, including the community playground, East Ferry and the front lawns of the library and police station.
While the school campus is “a very sensitive piece of property” because of Native American artifacts, Dickinson said, she identified two plots that already are developed. Moreover, they agreed to work with maintenance director Peter Anderson so repair work on the campus would not be hampered by this endeavor. The school board unanimously approved the request at its May 16 meeting.
“The first sculpture should be a cauldron that can hang so people can throw money into it to fund the project,” quipped Sally Schott, a member of the school board.
The state Department of Environmental Management, the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association and the Jamestown Historical Society also wrote letters endorsing their support to host installations on their properties, specifically Fort Wetherill, Beavertail State Park and the Jamestown Museum. The First Division of Shoreby Hill, which hosts the Christmas Eve pageant, said the plan aligns with its commitment to “support community events.”
“We look forward to working with the Jamestown Arts Center and its partners throughout the community as they continue to develop this exhibition, its logistics, practicalities and curatorial vision,” wrote Barbara Herrmann, subdivision president.
The arts center also is working with the chamber of commerce because the plan is to attract tourists to town, which will benefit the commercial district. Farrell said the goal “is to promote all of the treasures that Jamestown has to offer,” including businesses, landmarks and historical sites.
According to the timeline, following this phase of establishing partners for financial aid and installation sites, the arts center will solicit artistic proposals in September and October. The application deadline is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 1. Notifications of consideration will be mailed by New Year’s with finalists announced in March. The installation period will be from June 22-28.
Meagher said the proposal reminds her of Bill Crimmins’ “Monumenta,” an outdoor exhibition of sculpture in Newport that she experienced in 1974, which she called “marvelous, wonderful, inspiring.”
“For a kid who was interested in art,” she said, “it was pretty fabulous.”
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