February 24th, 2021

Our passion lies in connecting beautiful works of art with collectors who will cherish them for generations. It also lies in seeing the many little connections made to a piece while the work lives on our gallery walls, even before that one lucky collector takes the piece home. We’ve seen first-hand how art has a wonderfully peculiar way of connecting to every person differently. Witnessing that unique connection between art and viewer is a privilege we cherish here at Gallery MAR. After all, everyone deserves a little more connection and a little more beauty in their lives.

These little moments of connection ran through our mind as we read ARTnews’ piece on the rise of public art this past year. Claire Selvin of ARTnews writes, “In a year that left institutions around the world shuttered for months on end, public art took on a new resonance in many cities and provided safe experiences for those seeking a bit of visual relief from quarantine.” As art lovers, we rejoice at the prospect of art viewing as a cathartic experience for all and hope to offer such a visual relief within our Park City and Carmel galleries.

Outside of our gallery walls, we’re proud to represent artists who also make artwork for a variety of public spaces. We spoke with CorTen Steel and wood sculpture artist Jamie Burnes, steel sculpture artist Joe Norman, and encaustic painter Bridgette Meinhold about a few of their public art projects and their views on the importance of public art. We hope their eloquently articulated sentiments and their thoughtfully crafted public artworks offer you a beautiful moment of connection today.

 


JAMIE BURNES

 

Jamie Burnes, “Laura’s Ego,” 94″h x109″w x 30″d, CorTen steel and Black Locust, commissioned by and in the possession of The City of Coral Springs, FL, 2007

 

Gallery MAR: How does it feel having your work displayed in a public space?

Jamie Burnes: As a child I was always making things in my dad’s shop.  I was drawn to communicating an idea to others with my hands through welding, carving, or sculpting. This became my passion. I wanted to figure out how to make large works that people were drawn to. I remember seeing a new public work at a subway stop on my way to school and thinking how that same location I passed every day had been so plain and unnoticeable just days before.  Now this construction of flowing parts and circles has transformed the experience for all those commuting every day. I wanted to do that with my hands.

 

“We all bring our own set of experiences and eyes to the work. I savor these reactions. It means my work has reached someone, set them thinking, and started a dialogue.” – Jamie Burnes

 

I have spent my life in pursuit of that same communication making both public and private art. Installing art in and around public places offers exposure to the widest variety of people, to elicit limitless reflections and reactions.  Working with specific locations and composing within various landscapes allows me to build on and draw from the surroundings, man made or otherwise. 

I try to create pieces that are life-like and inviting from afar, while a closer inspection reveals an abstract layering of materials, textures, shapes and negative spaces using materials that are both natural and yet visibly hand made. I work with the spaces to make natural, interesting and thought provoking compositions. I have put works in public parks where at the opening someone said “I love your work, it looks like it’s ancient and medieval.” Minutes later someone else said of the piece, “Your work looks out of the future.” I savor these opposite reactions as we all bring our own set of experiences and eyes to the work. It means my work has reached someone, set them thinking, and started a dialogue.

 

Jamie Burnes, “After Work,” 67”h x 144”w x 107”d, Stainless steel Bronze and Oak, commissioned by and in the possession of The Cabot Corp Billerica, MA, 1998.                                                                    Jamie Burnes: “This was the first commission I ever gained for a public space. It fits perfectly into the stairwell / elevator lobby of their headquarters in Billerica MA. I made the man entirely from their scrap pile of stainless steel parts for their old machinery.”

 

Gallery MAR: How does the creation of public art differ from gallery art in your opinion? 

Jamie Burnes: I am honored to have my works displayed in private homes and public spaces alike. Because a good deal of my work is large scale, I think of these works in two categories, not public or private, but rather site specific work, and stand alone work. I wish all my work to be seen by the public, but I can’t control that. Often works made for a private person are displayed publicly, at the entrance to their home, or in a place where they are shared with passers by.  Many of my public works start as stand alone pieces in my studio, which I then enter into public purchasing competitions.

 

“I think the importance of public art is to communicate a feeling and idea in a new way. As long as I can, I will hammer away at my own vocabulary and hope to inspire a new way of thinking in others.” – Jamie Burnes

 

Stand alone pieces, and gallery pieces generally have fewer design requirements being subject to my own choices of line, shape and texture. To gain placements and public installations is often a rigorous process.  Site specific pieces involve coming up with an idea, putting together a proposal for that specific space, often many meetings with art committees, and then perhaps public meetings for further input, all within a budget. One final artist is chosen to make the work and install it. Commissioned work, where space descriptions and photos are sent, and the piece is designed for that space can be a similar process.

All my works are designed to display in a variety of spaces with ease, public, or private. I work with the surroundings of each piece. For instance I make the posture of the horse interact with the frequented paths in its surroundings.  I often find natural materials from in or around the installation site, perhaps unique stone or tree trunks, to incorporate in the work. This lends continuity between the landscape, the architecture and the art.

 

Jamie Burnes, “White Tail Buck,” 98″h x 92″w x32”d, CorTen steel and stone, Commissioned by Thunder Mountain Ranch, WI 2013.                                                                                                          Jamie Burnes: “This was commissioned for a ranch in Wisconsin at the entry. I flew to the property, which had some very unique outcroppings of rock. I collected the rock on a site visit, then shipped it back to my studio and came up with this guy.”

 

Gallery MAR: Why do you feel that public art is important?

Jamie Burnes: Placing art in public spaces is the best way to communicate with a large variety of people. Unique and different works allow viewers to interact, think about, and judge pieces using a whole new vocabulary. I hope to encourage a different way of seeing. When I was beginning, I decided to take sharp and angular pieces of metal, and compose them into a life-like and fluid cow. After welding the work together for months I had an abstraction that was also life like. I was asked to display the work in a field near a school, and I sat looking at it wondering if it were too abstract, if it were only life like to me? Just then a few kids came running to play in the park. They quickly noticed the work and ran and cheered and played around it. Then one picked the grass to feed this sharp and pointy creation. Apparently I had transformed rusty sharp metal into a life that needed feeding. Watching them warmed me as I realized that with my hands, a hammer, some steel and a welder I had clearly said something to them. I knew I was on my way.

Years later I have received letters from people who visit my pieces on their daily walks. One of my warmest receptions was many years ago at an opening in North Charleston, SC, a neighborhood improvement project in a disadvantaged neighborhood. I made an abstract horse that sat by the waterfront. Throngs of neighborhood kids came to visit in awe, asking how I made the work. How did I make a living doing that?  Many asked for photos of me and my work. Seeing them get the idea that one can make something not for utilitarian purposes, but for the purpose of saying something different, or just to honor the beauty of a line, or make something to reach out and touch others, was wonderful. My work encouraged those kids to think about new possibilities and ways to do things. I think the importance of public art is to communicate a feeling and idea in a new way. If viewers feel anything or think differently about the world after interacting with my pieces, then my communication has been successful. As long as I can, I will hammer away at my own vocabulary and hope to inspire a new way of thinking in others.

 


JOE NORMAN

Joe Norman, “Homeward Monarch,” 2020, Commissioned through the City of Downey, CA, and the National Sculptor’s Guild
Joe Norman: “This one is placed along the butterfly migration corridor in California, and reflects the incredible journey these delicate, drunken creatures take as they fly from Canada to Mexico and back. From one direction the sculpture is a flock of butterflies, and from the other it is the word ‘homeward’. I also see it as a recognition of the migration of people, both on their daily routines and throughout their lives constantly heading ‘home’.”

 

Gallery MAR: How does it feel having your work displayed in a public space?

Joe Norman: When I was a kid growing up in Texas, our local library lent out paintings along with books. I have a memory of sweating in the back seat of our busted 1980 Oldsmobile wagon on the way home with gigantic paintings that would hang on our wall for a few weeks before we swapped them out. So, art for me has always been a public resource, available to people regardless of income. Now that I have the opportunity to create permanent, site-specific public work, I take that responsibility very seriously. I’ve been entrusted to use public funds wisely and professionally, and to enrich the community in which the sculpture is placed.

 

Joe Norman, “Faith/Doubt” and “Love/Fear” 2020
Joe Norman: “Both of these pieces are placed in the sculpture garden of the Arvada Center for the Arts in Denver, CO. They each show two different words depending on the viewpoint of the observer (Faith/Doubt and Love/Fear). The idea here was to question if thinking in terms of “either/or” is useful — maybe we don’t just get to have faith OR doubt, but we can have both at the same time, just like both words exist in a single sculpture.”

 

Gallery MAR: How does the creation of public art differ from gallery art in your opinion? 

Joe Norman: For my work, the two contexts (gallery and public placement) are constantly dancing with each other. They provide some diversification in a business context, as well as giving two distinct feedback loops to see if the ideas they represent resonate with people, and how. 

 

“Art for me has always been a public resource, available to people regardless of income.  Now that I have the opportunity to create permanent, site-specific public work, I take that responsibility very seriously.” – Joe Norman

 

Also, the work I generate for galleries is speculative; I’m creating it and hoping it connects with someone. When work in a gallery is purchased, it gives me an opportunity to recoup the time and material invested and continue to work on and promote the next idea. The public placements are often less risky financially, but take much longer. I’ve found that to even begin to understand the community and the stakeholders in a given project takes a significant amount of time; most of my public projects are measured not in days but years.

 

Joe Norman, “Run & Fly,” 2019, Commissioned through the City of Golden, CO
Joe Norman: This is a set of three sculptures placed on a hillside along a major commuting corridor in Golden, CO. From one direction three kids appear running together, and from another direction it shows three Red-tailed Hawks. My intent here was to build upon the relationship Golden has with its immediate natural environment. It is home to the Colorado School of Mines, Coors Brewery, and the USGS Geologic Hazards Science Center, all of which are intimately tied to the understanding of the natural world. In addition, much of Golden’s population live there specifically because of the access to nature; in fact, the idea for the sculpture arose out of seeing several kids running around in a field while hawks circled above them.”

 

Gallery MAR: Why do you feel that public art is important?

 Joe Norman: When the physical context, the idea, the community, and the moment in history align I believe it to be incredibly powerful. The public art I enjoy the most engages me both intellectually and emotionally; and the public artists I admire have figured out what their work has to do with the rest of us.

 


BRIDGETTE MEINHOLD

 

Bridgette Meinhold paints a mural at the entrance of Swaner Nature Preserve in Park City, UT

 

Gallery MAR: How does it feel having your work displayed in a public space?

Bridgette Meinhold: It’s important to me to give back, to use my skills in a way that benefits my community. Back during the spring quarantine, I was brainstorming ways to bring some cheer to my city and I thought a mural would be a great way to do it. It makes me happy to work with local non-profits, like the Swaner Nature Preserve.

 

“It’s important to me to give back, to use my skills in a way that benefits my community.” – Bridgette Meinhold

 

They wanted a mural on the exterior of the building to help introduce the preserve to visitors and enliven their entrance. As part of the development for the mural, I spent time out on the preserve observing and taking stock of the flowers, plants, animals and birds. We developed an idea to paint the preserve at the building’s entrance to give people an idea of what they were walking into and also get rid of the boring architecture panels. The mural was completed in August 2020 with the help of Swaner Volunteers extraordinaire, Bob and Leslie.

 

 

Progress pictures of the painting of the Swaner Nature Preserve mural by Bridgette Meinhold

 

Gallery MAR: How does the creation of public art differ from gallery art in your opinion? 

Bridgette Meinhold: Public art is more community-driven, more outwardly focused as opposed to my own work, which is all about my own feelings, my own view. I worked with Swaner Nature Preserve to find a solution that would help make their work better. While the mural is certainly done in my own style, the idea was all theirs.

 

Bridgette Meinhold stands in front of her completed mural at the Swaner Nature Preserve

 

Gallery MAR: Why do you feel that public art is important?

Bridgette Meinhold: Public art is important because it is open so that anyone can view it and experience it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my work with everyone regardless of their means.

 


We would like to extend our gratitude to our artists for their time and insights. Thank you for bringing brightness, beauty, and meaning to our public spaces!

 

Written by Veronica Vale