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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Living Sculpture Park

posted by on February 28 at 10:35 AM

That’s what the Seattle Art Museum said it wanted to create with the Olympic Sculpture Park, and so it situated the park in the middle of downtown, in the middle of the urban fray—but then filled it with almost entirely old and conservative art. Because of the infrastructural challenges of the site, the park cost $86 million.

It’s hard not to notice that for less than half that amount—$40 million—the Indianapolis Museum of Art is opening a 100-acre sculpture park that will have a spectacular opening lineup of 10 contemporary artists and artist collectives making special commissioned work for the site, according to an announcement the IMA made yesterday.

Read the roster and weep: Haluk Akakçe, Atelier Van Lieshout, Kendall Buster, Sam Easterson, Peter Eisenman, Alfredo Jaar, Los Carpinteros, Tea Mäkipää, Type A, and Andrea Zittel.

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Isn't land much, MUCH cheaper in Indianapolis? Not commenting on what is IN the Olympic Sculpture Park, although I like most of what is there, but to compare Indianapolis to Seattle doesn't necessarily make sense to me. The setting for OSP is spectacular and definitely part of the cost.

Posted by CameronRex | February 28, 2007 10:53 AM

Seattle is like that. It is part of our unwritten civic code to let our arts and political leaders overpay for traditional stuff. Do not quibble - that would not be kosher. Cost is not to be a heavily-weighted factor in civic decisions, nor is novelty. Those staid establishment artists whose work we have now that you decry - museums all over the country have work from those artists. Light rail - there's another example. Sure we pay far too much, in a frantic effort to copy the other metro areas that have it. Just don't complain about it. No one cares what you think.

Posted by Buffet | February 28, 2007 11:00 AM

indianapolis spreads out like a cancer on the prairie. there are no bounds.

the collection will change.

an idea: turn magnusson into a sculpture park, and discovery, too. pull out some himalayan blackberry copses; there's room.

Posted by Max Solomon | February 28, 2007 11:12 AM

In the arts, it's almost always easier to fundraise for land or infrastructure than it is to raise money for the actual thing you do.

Posted by MvB | February 28, 2007 11:13 AM

Agree with #1 above.

There's a reason land is cheaper in sucks. I would rather have an OK sculpture park in a picturesque setting than an amazing sculpture park in the middle of a shithole.

Actually, you know, I've never been to Indianapolis. Maybe it's nice. Forget I said anything.

Land is definitely cheaper there, though. I do know that.

Posted by Matthew | February 28, 2007 11:15 AM

Why does the story of SAM continue to repeat itself time and time again?

Posted by Jim Demetre | February 28, 2007 11:15 AM

This comparison is completely unfair and I await the 2009 update when the Indy project is complete and on budget. On top of the difference in land price in a major urban core, let's consider some other monetary costs that translate into human and environmental well being: cleaning up an industrial brownfield next to residential and costal areas; the buttressing of a sea wall; the creation of juvenile salmon estuary and a native beach habitat; the linking of urban zone over industry and straight to the water; and last but not least, the installation of art.

Posted by Otter | February 28, 2007 11:27 AM

SAM is to Gates & Allen as Szobor Park is to Marx & Lenin

Posted by Some Jerk | February 28, 2007 11:32 AM

I shan't waste my tears over Los Carpinteros. Seattle is better off without their gilded flip-flops.

Posted by Meagan | February 28, 2007 11:51 AM

I am not worked up about the amount of money SAM spent on this park, only the fact that so little of the money went to art acquisitions and programming. As Otter points out, art comes last--and in too many ways, also least.

Posted by Jen Graves | February 28, 2007 12:02 PM

I was going to log in my post and say something to the effect of, Indianapolis may have a better install *now*, but the installs will change, and Indianapolis will always suck. But, I was pleased to see nearly all the other posts saying essentially the same thing.

Posted by Brad | February 28, 2007 1:50 PM

I am naked right now.

Posted by rufus | February 28, 2007 7:59 PM

Yeah, not boo-hooing over it either.

Posted by Deacon Seattle | February 28, 2007 9:19 PM

I lived in Indy for a couple of years in my mid-20's, though I never went to the IMA. But nevertheless, Indy is a beautiful city that just needs an identity other than what you people here in Seattle who have probably never even been there say. This Art and Nature Park will prove a lot of you wrong, even if you won't admit it.

Posted by Tim | March 1, 2007 7:30 AM

I've never been to Indianapolis, but the quirky "Albert Sampson" mysteries by Michael Z. Lewin, set in that city, are great.

I predict the SAM Sculpture Park will only have one or two extremely durable pieces left in it by the end of this decade.

Posted by Fnarf | March 1, 2007 8:31 AM

Is money really a problem with Gates and friends backing SAM long term? Seattle got what it paid for - a sure thing.

Posted by SAM I AM | March 4, 2007 2:50 PM

Max Solomon, Indianapolis is in what was Eastern woodland.That is why the Indianapolis sculpture park will feature an elevated nature path through deciduous tree tops, which should be quite beautiful in the fall. The tall grass prairie starts a few miles into Illinois heading West from Indiana and goes on to the Mississippi.

I think most things pale before nature. Maybe Seattle's beautiful waterfront is just too grand a site for a sculpture park.

Posted by Anon | March 5, 2007 6:29 AM

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