Barry Allen is a great guy. He is someone that I consider a friend and a person I respect as having contributed significantly to our community. His lovely wife, Debbie, is also a class act.
Unfortunately, Barry’s taste in, and appreciation for, contemporary art is on par with my appreciation and understanding of lacrosse.
Paraphrasing Councilman Avery, art is subjective and is designed to, at a minimum, foster conversation among the viewing audience. And, when you add a beautiful environment and exquisite ocean view as the setting for that conversation, you realize why art is such an integral part of the human experience. Art encourages civilized discourse.
Councilman Peotter hates the rabbits but he is still, to this day, talking about them. They are an essential part of his political essence. And therefore, in that context, the art in the park has served its purpose: it has stimulated conversation and become a substantial part of our community’s political dialogue.
Art has won.
Mr. Allen might not like some of the pieces chosen by the Arts Commission and their consultants, but he is publically talking about them and his comments will, if nothing else, encourage people to go and see for themselves what he is talking about.
And then, based upon each visitor’s subjective taste, that each visitor will either agree with, or disagree with, my friend Barry. But the very fact that they are visiting the garden, and then stopping at Ruby’s or Sprinkles or Gulfstream to discuss what they have experienced, contributes to our community in both a tangible and intangible manner.
We can quantify the tangible impact on the community by the revenues generated at our local businesses. We can quantify the intangible impact by simply looking at the diversity and number of the people who are enjoying their walks through the garden.
The Arts Commission, the consultants and the City Council all did their job and all should be commended. They have, at a very nominal cost, enhanced the soul of our community by creating a unique respite, like the tide pools and Buck Gully or Marina Park and Fashion Island, where residents and visitors alike can relax, recreate and converse.
Our community has reaffirmed the importance of public art in public life. The City Arts Commission, the City Council and Barry Allen should all be thanked.
And, just for the record, it should be noted that since President Reagan has been relocated to Rabbit Hill, his smile seems a little bigger.