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$25 Million Public Art Project Gets Under Way

Nearly 30 pieces of contemporary art already decorating public spaces; $5 million in artwork slated for Urban Train stations


September 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Before year’s end, there will be 75 new pieces of contemporary art on display across Puerto Rico, the first step in a government effort to spruce up public spaces and perhaps brighten people’s lives and expand their cultural horizons.

Miguel Rodriguez, director of the Public Art Project, said the government is investing $25 million in 100 pieces by local and foreign artists as part of an initiative that he believes should continue regardless of changes in the administration.

"The Public Art Project proposes an economic approach to culture. It is a vehicle to turn our artists into professionals, providing them with opportunities for work," he said. "In addition, we intend to create an Art Route [Ruta del Arte], on which locals and visitors will be able to travel around the island to enjoy these works of art."

Rodriguez said the project demonstrates that art can be functional as well as aesthetic. Completing it, he added, will put the island on the same level as countries such as Germany and Brazil, whose public art projects have gained worldwide attention.

Puerto Rico’s project is an initiative of Gov. Sila M. Calderon’s, who had developed something similar as mayor of San Juan. Rodriguez said it has generally been embraced by residents, communities, and municipalities, even though some people may be unfamiliar with contemporary art.

A 12-member committee of local and foreign art and culture experts evaluated more than 300 proposals submitted in 2001 and 2002 to the Public Art division of the Department of Transportation & Public Works. The committee selected the proposals of 51 local and foreign artists such as Antonio Martorell, Rafael Ferrer, Daniel Lind, Lourdes Correa, and Anaida Hernandez.

Rodriguez said 27 pieces are complete, including a playground, a bus shelter in Isla Verde, and a shelter on Culebra’s waterfront. Several are on display at Urban Train stations, since $5 million was allocated expressly for this purpose. Another 30 pieces are in the works, including a massive trinitaria (bougainvillea) garden suspended over Roosevelt Avenue and a mural with reflectors on the overpasses next to the Minillas Government Center. The construction phase of the remaining 43 pieces is slated to begin in the next few months.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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