Public art worthy of your attention

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‘The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.’

—Pablo Picasso

You think it’s inspiring.

He thinks it’s dreadful.

And she didn’t even notice it.

That’s one of the truths about art: If it’s any good, chances are people will have different opinions about it.

There are exceptions, of course. It’s impossible to find a living soul who does not love everything Claude Monet painted. But short of the immortals shaping clay or clinging to paint brushes, disagreement is a medium that carries art beyond the domain of the mundane.

The city of Coeur d’Alene has long upheld a tradition of sharing public art with the community, visitors and residents alike. The art chosen carefully by the Coeur d’Alene Arts Commission includes feedback from the public, so for a sculpture to go up at, say, McEuen Park, some level of citizen input has already taken place.

Where you find consternation over a public art project, you’re almost certain to discover one (or both) of the following phenomena at work: 1. Religious sensitivities are exposed, and/or 2. People just don’t like the idea of government investing in something as subjective as art.

By city ordinance, 1.33 percent of the costs of eligible capital improvement projects goes into the Coeur d’Alene public arts fund. Yes, they’re public dollars, and it’s not hard to sympathize with citizens who are struggling to make ends meet when they get to look at a huge osprey feather while there’s not as much food on the table as they’d like. Yet for that 1.33 percent investment, we think the community at large benefits. All that art makes for a more interesting, enticing place we call “home.”

Coeur d’Alene has invested in more than 100 public art pieces or displays, ranging from the brilliantly colorful to the subtly inspiring. The newest addition, “Undercurrent,” will be dedicated at 5 p.m. Oct. 1 next to the Riverstone parking lot. To see images of all the city’s public art, go to:

We agree with Mr. Picasso’s opening quote above, and we close with some wisdom from one of America’s most beloved characters.

‘As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.’

— Calvin, of Calvin & Hobbes fame

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