Double-Take: So, what is public art anyway?

public-art
public-art

What’s the difference between a rickety, wooden cart loaded with mounds of fresh fruit in the middle of the city and an oddly shaped sculpture on the street?

Lots.

For starters, the fruit cart is tended to by someone who is hoping to make a living from the sale of juicy oranges and firm bananas, where as the piece of art is an inanimate object with no hopes of monetary gain. The sculpture is made with man-made materials, but the fruit stand is an arrangement of natural objects. The sculpture is a permanent object, unlike the fruit stand, which will rot away over the course of a few days if left unattended.

But beyond those basic differences, can’t we appreciate the aesthetic value of both? The sculpture is aesthetically pleasing from a more traditional angle. Fine art, sharp lines breaking with the landscape. But the fruit stand is just as, if not more, aesthetically appealing in the way that it conflicts with its surroundings. Bright colors breaking from the neutrals of the concrete and asphalt. They are different, but isn’t it safe to say that both are stunning examples of art? One planned, the other accidental.

Original photo of fruit cart by

Jenelle Sewell Cheney

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Original photo of Tony Rosenthal's Alamo on Astor Place by Ben Cheney.