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Fort Worth Public Art Program Thinking Big

by Stephen Becker 12 Jan 2012 9:45 AM

With its first decade under its belt, the Fort Worth Public Art Program has big plans for the future.


With its first decade under its belt, the Fort Worth Public Art Program has big plans for the future.

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Martha Peters is the only director the City of Fort Worth’s public art program has ever had. During her tenure, it’s commissioned everything from a three-story light sculpture on Lancaster Avenue to murals at fire stations.

And now, she says it’s time to think about expansion.

PETERS: “With partnerships and creative thinking, we could do something bigger. So I think that’s sort of where things might be heading as we look to the next 10 years.”

So how big are we talking? Late last year, Peters brought in Ed Uler to speak at the program’s 10th anniversary luncheon. Uler was the project manager for Chicago’s Millennium Park – a 25 acre space that draws more than 3 million visitors annually. It’s maybe best known for Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, a mirrored sculpture locals call The Bean (above).

The park is an example of what can be accomplished when public and private funding come together. Many of Millennium Park’s flashier features were paid for by companies and philanthropists. Meanwhile, the city paid for necessary infrastructure like parking garages. It’s a model that Peters would like to follow in Fort Worth.

PETERS: “One of the reasons we brought Ed Uler in … was to be inspired and to see that a large-scale expression that involves contemporary public art can really create a new focal point for the city. It can certainly attract economic growth and tourism and maybe be something that draws people from all over the city and all over the region, country, world – why stop there?”

City of Fort Worth capital projects and the water department each kick in 2 percent of their funds to pay for the city’s public art program. But to think bigger, Peters says private funding is needed.

A plan to seek that funding might not be far off. Since Uler’s visit, the public art program’s visioning committee has met to discuss the program’s long-term goals. Its No. 1 recommendation? A large-scale artwork that can serve as the signature piece of the collection.

The visioning committee will make its recommendation – and discuss how to make it a reality – at a Fort Worth Art Commission meeting Jan. 18.