Buster Simpson on the Green Road to Public Art

26 Apr

Photo courtesy of Buster Simpson.

Ecological Public Art:  Making a Difference

The earth is in ecological crisis. Now more than ever, ecological public art can pose intriguing and critical questions about the state of our planet. On May 1 at the University of Puget Sound, art curator Patricia Watts and public artist Buster Simpson will discuss what makes a successful public art plan including selecting public art works that are both aesthetically rigorous and sustainable as infrastructure projects. Watts will discuss the public art selection process and Simpson will present the longer road to bringing larger environmental projects to fruition working with city, state, and federal agencies. Both are concerned with how these types of projects are planned for, funded, and that when they are completed, they are public art works that make a real difference for both people and the natural world.

Buster Simpson is one of the nation’s foremost ecological artists. For over 30 years, he has been engaging citizens in aesthetics, politics and the environment. Humor and rich metaphors distinguish his work, with many of his deceptively simple sculptures offering solutions to real problems. Beginning in Seattle in the 1970’s, Simpson helped establish the practice of public art as a profession, and still today, he “prefers working in public domains. The complexity of any site is its asset, to build upon, to distill, to reveal its layers of meaning. Process becomes part and parcel. Site conditions, social and political realities, history, existing phenomena and ecology are the armature. The challenge is to navigate along the edge between provocateur and pedestrian, art as gift and poetic utility.”

Patricia Watts is founder and West Coast curator of ecoartspace, a platform for artists addressing environmental issues in the visual arts. She has researched art and nature practitioners since 1994, has given lectures at art departments internationally, and has curated over 30 exhibitions. Watts was Chief Curator at the Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa, CA, from 2005-2008.
WHO: Buster Simpson and Patricia Watts
WHAT: “Ecological Public Art: Making a Difference”
WHERE: University of Puget Sound, 1500 N. Warner, Tacoma, WA 98416. Kittredge Building, Room 201
WHEN: Tuesday May 1, 3 pm

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