The latest public art project in Rock Hill should accomplish most, if not all, of its goals. People should slow down and examine it and, hopefully, talk about the art.
For the artists, it is a chance to express their energy, their curiosity, their whimsy and their talent.
By these criteria, the Main Street Sculpture Gallery at the corner of East Main Street and Dave Lyle Boulevard in downtown is a success.
There is a lot of whimsy. There is a lot of color. It took a lot of energy to cut, bend, weld and paint the steel.
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But, I believe, the project fell short. When it comes to public art, the entire city is the canvass, not just downtown.
The gallery has great ideas and good execution. But it is in the wrong place. Art's place downtown is already solidified. It is time to look for new venues.
This observation in no way diminishes the work of the 13 Winthrop University students in the Sculpture 1 class who crafted the seven pieces of art.
Three months ago the students knew little about bending steel, much less welding it. All they had were their ideas, time and talent.
They learned valuable lessons.
The inspiration for Natalie Rushing and Chelsea Arthur's piece was fungus in the rain forest. Their final product, which combines steel with textiles, evolved from that initial idea.
Their instructor, associate professor Shaun Cassidy, "told us, don't let your original idea handicap you," Arthur said.
They chose fabric as a contrast to the steel. In Wednesday's wind they noted the fabric - and the steel - moved. Their choice of fabric, while largely by happenstance, is a perfect fit for this location. The Cotton Factory and the Bleachery can been seen from the sculpture garden.
The project is also providing feedback, a valuable, out-of-the-ivory-tower lesson. Yes, professors such as Cassidy critique student's work. But the off-the-streets comments that students such as John Williams are hearing will shape their artistic development just as much, if not more, than academic discourse.
Williams, who is from Rock Hill, sculpted a giant red skeleton work. His inspiration was an X-ray image of a conch shell. It is his largest piece to date. He enjoys having a place to show it. Too often works of sculpture by students find residence in a parent's back yard or a scrap heap.
But having a pedestal at the corner of Main and Dave Lyle means people get to see his work and tell him what they think about it.
John Reinhart, president of the Board of Governors for ChristmasVille and member of the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp., was drawn to Williams' work.
"This brings an element to downtown that has not been here," Reinhart said. "It's great to see young people being a part of Old Town. You just don't change the name, you have to change the culture."
Resonating with viewers is essential for public art. If art does not make a connection, it will be considered junk. Art, in all forms, must represent some form of value.
Wednesday's unveiling of the sculpture gallery also was a chance for the city and Winthrop to tout other upcoming partnerships for the visual, as well as performing, arts. The sculpture gallery exhibits will change over time. If you don't like what you see today, come back later.
It is also time for Winthrop and the city to consider other places for their artistic palette. Other places where people will take the time to stop in their busy day, rest for the moment and consider the art.
And hopefully, they will tell others.
It should happen - all over the city.