In my opinion, we have too little public space devoted to public art throughout the city of youngstown. I remember as a kid being able to run around the life-sized statues on Federal Street of the workers throwing their shovels into the blast furnace. Now that George Segal's piece is near the steel museum, surrounded by a lawn, it just seems so removed from interacting with the public. But maybe that's where the public wants it . . . moving images of the past to the periphery.
I have some concepts for public art in the city. As more people add comments to this blog, I will give more ideas. So if you the public somehow wander onto this site, please post your thoughts and suggestions.
idea one: recreate in bronze the "snap the whip" image from Windslow Homer's painting which is hanging in the Butler. The models of the casting would come from children in the area, generating interest for the project. But each of the seven or eight kids playing the game would be from a different generation. The lead boy would mimic the original painting, clasping hands with someone from the early 20th century. Included in the mix would be a kid with a buzzcut, a girl with an afro, and a modern kid with an ipod in his back pocket. Some children would have hands clenched to others from a different generation, and others would be left reaching in the air.
But the collection of statues would be approachable, so in 20 years, children (whatever they look like) will be able to grab the shiny metal hands of the statue I am proposing. We can put in a public place, where it can be touched by children whenever they go past it.
idea two: we need statues signifying the historical legacy of our area's intellectuals in addition to its great coaches and athletes. I propose installing a life-sized image of John H. Clarke, who was an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in the early 20th century. He was a part-owner of the Youngstown Vindicator and past president of the Youngstown Library Board of Trustees, where he worked to greatly enhance the collection of the library system. Clarke once stated the following:
"I have lived a long, very busy, and not uneventful life, and as I look back on its activities, other than professional, it seems to me that the most useful, certainly the most satisfying, part of it was striving as I did as a young man to obtain a public library for the city in which I lived, and to carry forward its good work when it was once secured."
idea three: Also spending a good portion of their lives in Youngstown were the Warner Brothers, most of whom emmigrated from Krasnosielc, Poland to Youngstown when they were children. One of the four brothers, Sam, became interested in film after seeing a movie by Thomas Edison at nearby Cedar Point amusement park where he was an employee.
What about some sort of recreation of an early scene in film history with the Warner Brothers? The sculpture could show the four brothers, at their various ages when they lived in Youngstown, redding up their equipment for a shot. One or two of the brothers can be behind the camera, taking a picture of the other two brothers. If these sculptures are life-sized, people can walk right next to the statues and pretend to pose for a photo with the Warner Brothers.