Public art boom in Downtown Arlington piques our (P)interest

Thanks to the on-going installation of twenty Star of Texas statues throughout the City of Arlington, buzz about the value of public art is reaching a new zenith around town. In Downtown Arlington, that conversation is yielding results as a public art renaissance takes hold.

The value of public art

Public art plays two roles in a community, according to Richard Florida, head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and author of the best-selling book The Rise of the Creative Class.

“Public art helps to create an authentic sense of place and serves as a tool for revitalization,” wrote Florida. “The arts can also help play a role in revitalization. Investment in the arts (galleries, public arts, common spaces, etc.) provides public leaders with a viable alternative to the large capital investments such as stadiums, convention centers, and so on.”

“With UT Arlington and the Arlington Museum of Art in the heart of Downtown, we’ve always been home to great visual art and artists,” said Tony Rutigliano, president and CEO of Downtown Arlington Management Corporation. “Through several new initiatives, including the Stars of Texas and others in the works, more and more artists are finding and sharing their voices here.”

While the Stars are among the newest public art projects in Arlington, the total number throughout Downtown has grown over the decades. You must be asking the same question we are: where is all this art? 

Treasure hunt

“You can find some of it here, some of it there, on this or that website,” said O.K. Carter, award-winning author, journalist, and creator of the Arlington, Texas, Public Art board on Pinterest. “But until Arlington, Texas, Public Art came along, there was no place to find most of it.”

Murals, classic and modernist sculptures, kinetic art, fountains, UTA mascot statues, commissioned pieces, Stars of Texas: by collecting images of public art throughout Arlington, Carter believes that the whole can finally be perceived as it is: much greater than the sum of its parts.

“The main purpose is to create a sense of cultural place for Arlington,” said Carter. “The typical person looks at Arlington, Texas, Public Art for the first time and says, ‘I had no idea.’ The image of Arlington -- the city's brand -- is immediately elevated. Pretty damn good for something as simple as a photo board.

“The secondary ambition behind the board is to pass out the equivalent of atta-boys and atta-girls to the artists and -- of equal importance – to the people who invested in the art. Money and investment matter.”

The latest additions

As you’re perusing Arlington, Texas, Public Art, look for the newest Downtown art installations including seven Star of Texas sculptures, Burning Man’s “Dream,” and a mural homage to Arlington’s history: 

Vandergriff Building: “Historic Arlington” mural

Artists: Lee and Sheri Saxton

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Abram Street: “Dream” sculpture

Artists: Jeff Schanberg and Laura Kimpton

DREAM sculpture unveiling at Founders Plaza on Sept. 25, 2015.

Arlington Museum of Art/Gene Allen Park: “Rainbow” Star of Texas

Concept: DeeJay Johannessen; Artist: Izzy Espinoza

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 J. Gilligan’s: “Aiming for the Stars” Star of Texas

Artist: Breanne Schwarz

Star at Gilligan's

Kool Keg: “Star Light, Star Bright” Star of Texas

Artist: Jennifer Silverton

Star at Kool Keg

Levitt Pavilion/Founders Plaza: “Kaleidoscope of Dreams” Star of Texas

Artists: Canvas by Canvas

Star at Levitt public art piece in downtown Arlington TX

Mellow Mushroom: “Language” Star of Texas

Artist: DeMario Davis

Language Star of Texas (1)

Grease Monkey: “Business” Star of Texas

Artist: Danielle Zamagni

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Sanford House: “Arlington Ascending” Star of Texas

Artists: Catherine Wehlburg and Mitcheal Veenstra

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Want to take a closer look? You’ll soon be able to view an online map of all public art in Downtown Arlington. In the meantime, check out our Pinterest board.

About Downtown Arlington

Ranked as one of the top urban districts in the country in 2016 by TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, Downtown Arlington Texas blends a unique mix of activities, sights, tastes and sounds that attract visitors and locals alike. Within its less than a two-mile radius, Downtown Arlington is home to a top tier public university, prolific cultural arts institutions and live entertainment, exciting NCAA and professional athletics, one-of-a-kind dining and retail, and a supportive business climate. Downtown Arlington brings together a plethora of cultures and inspirations with a character all its own.

#authenticallyArlington @dtarlington