As passengers head to the new gates at Love Field, they’ll be greeted by another addition to the airport. Seven new pieces of public art are now on display. And that artwork serves many functions at the airport:
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- The Love Field artists talk about the airport as artspace
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There are a couple of ways to enter the airport. But wherever you come in, before you hit your first ticket counter or hustle through the security check, you’ll see something that might dial down your stress level – a work of art.
“Everybody wants to have a pleasant experience in the airport,” says Kay Kallos, who manages the City of Dallas’ public art program. She oversaw the installation of $3.5 million worth of new artwork at the airport. “Not always the case with security issues and being hurried and travel delays and all of that sort of thing. Public art certainly contributes to a more positive experience of the space.”
Pass through the main entrance and you’ll be greeted by the iconic Texas Ranger statue that’s welcomed travelers since the 1960s. But over his right shoulder is a new piece that no one will miss.
North Texas Sunrise, a mosaic next to the security checkpoint, stretches 64 feet and soars 18 feet high. An estimated 100,000 pieces of tile make up the landscape.
Houston artist Dixie Friend Gay created the piece – a pastel prairie setting bursting with native plants and flowers.
“Even a picture of nature relaxes us, slows us down. I know how hectic travel can be,” she says. “This is a way to calm the mind I think.”
All of the artwork centers on North Texas, travel or both. The artists were challenged to create pieces that will appeal to anyone who may pass by. For Seattle artist Paul Marioni, that meant a terrazzo floor installation featuring birds you might see in Texas.
“When we work in a public space, you figure out who’s your audience,” he says. “In an airport, it’s everybody – young and old, Christian, Jew, Muslim, men, women. So it’s like, what can we do that everybody will feel comfortable, be made to feel welcome.”
When the city put out the call for commissions, more than 400 artists worldwide sent in proposals. Kallos – the public art manager – set a goal that 25 percent of the artwork would come from Dallas artists. And the locals represented themselves well. When the final few pieces are installed at the end of the summer, nearly half of the airport’s public art will be locally made.
David Newtown is one of the Dallas artists who was chosen. He’s working on a series of four bronze medallions, each focusing on Dallas history. But he says the art at the airport is important for what it tells people visiting the city.
“It lets travelers know that art is an important part of the community or culture in your city,” he says. “In that way, you’re kind of telling people who you are just by the sense that you are supporting the arts in your public building. So that’s very important I think as an introduction to the city.”
In addition to the new art pieces, the airport also has opened a gallery space. Its first exhibition explains how the new artwork was installed.