Reading today's Salem Breakfast on Bikes post about the sculpture garden at the downtown Conference Center made me wonder if the author had tuned in to my wife's brain.
This is almost exactly what Laurel has said several times, albeit in different words, when we drive by this uninviting concrete expanse.
The barrenness of the sculpture garden is an ornamental emptiness and far, far from anything we might consider a "functioning city scene." It is an attempt at delight, but it fails at dignity. If anything, the sterile concrete expanse looks cheap, an expression of that "demeaning bottom line."
...People don't, therefore, congregate in the space unless there is a special event at the Conference Center. It is an annex and patio for the Conference Center itself, not a public space and "functioning city scene." It is marketing adjunct, not urban fabric.
In addition, my wife finds the lack of trees to be one of the worst design failures of this unattractive area.
If it is raining, who is going to venture out onto the sculpture garden during a break in conference action? But if it is sunny and hot, as it is for much of Salem's summer, the lack of shade makes the concrete wasteland unappealing.
Putting expensive public art in a place where very few people congregate is ridiculous. It'd be better to have the art in Riverfront Park, Bush Park, the Courthouse Square bus mall, or almost anywhere else.
I drive by the sculpture garden almost every day. I don't recall ever seeing a single person there. As noted by the Breakfast on Bikes post, there is a complete absence of a "functioning city scene" at this location.
Another Salem blog, LoveSalem, riffed off the B on B post.
Creative ideas here. I only wish City of Salem and/or Conference Center officials had the vision to run with them. Greenery, whether of the garden or decorative variety, would go a long way toward making the sculpture garden a place that attracts people.
You know what would really improve that sad wasteland?
Growing things ... You know, gardens.
Work with MPFS [Marion-Polk Food Share] community gardens program to round up gardeners, get the Convention Center to underwrite all the costs, Fresh Start youth to build raised beds, set up irrigation systems, and presto!
Life in an otherwise sterile, dead, depressing place.
Good southern exposure, so great sun. A bunch of raised beds, an enclosed shed for garden tools, and then the sculpture could be in a garden.
Could even build a few handicapped-accessible raised beds designed to allow a person in a mobility chair to get underneath the ledge so that handicapped folks could garden too.
Gardeners split proceeds with MPFS.