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It is interesting to note how little contemporaneous work in the United States influences architectural designs in even the most American of the larger Canadian cities. The above elevation is typical, aside from the lion and the unicorn over the doorway; it is distinctly insular and has a quiet charm, perhaps in keeping with local business methods, and in the high roof there is a trait particularly indigenous to northern countries.
MATTERS OF MUNICIPAL ART VALUE OF SCULPTURE TO A CITY-STATUES IN PARKS-NEED OF CO-OPERA
TION AND THE UTILITY OF AN ART COMMISSION
REPRINTED FROM THE SPRINGFIELD “DAILY REPUBLICAN,” AND
MAKE A BEAUTIFUL CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, MASS.”
of municipal art as add beauty to great drals, pictures and statues of the old world; the capitals, and in Europe to many minor towns as great exhibitions of Chicago and Buffalo have well. Our city is fortunate in possessing one opened the eyes of multitudes to the charm of admirable work of sculpture, “The Puritan,” by architecture, sculpture and landscape gardening. St. Gaudens, but for the most part it has this Rich Americans are exasperating and alarming field still to develop. That it will be developed Europe by carrying off its choicest art treasures in course of time there can be no reasonable whenever they appear in the auction-room. It doubt. In the past America has naturally been may be urged that this argues wealth rather than too much engrossed with enforced problems of genuine art culture, but at present this is not the material development to have much leisure or point. The thing to be noted is that American wealth to devote to artistic matters. But of late wealth is increasingly turned into this channel, years there has been a notable development of with the result of bringing to the new world such wealth, and with it has come a manifest increase art treasures as it has hitherto lacked. And of interest in those arts, for the cultivation of together with this matured tendency there is a which money is required.
growing disposition on the part of men of means The artistic instinct, which in the older and to benefit the public with their surplus. Already simpler days found outlet only in such inexpen- the largest and richest American cities, like New sive and transportable art as literature, has dis York and Chicago, are beginning to receive vast
funds for purely artistic purposes, and it is only monument, a sculptural fountain, a statue, or a matter of time when smaller towns will get other work of art, there ought to be an organizatheir due share. In a modest way at first, but on tion whose decision as to the placing, subject and a steadily increasing scale, Springfield, like other style of such work would carry weight. For a progressive and well-to-do cities, will have money beginning it would be well if the architects, to devote to such ends, and it is not too soon to painters and other trained artists of the city consider how this field can be cultivated to the should, in an informal way, establish an associabest advantage.
tion intended primarily to suggest the best possiFor the present and for a long time to come, bilities. To take a single example, here are a Springfield, like other towns, must depend for lot of pretty small parks of a rather commonplace such works of art upon the generosity of public- sort, which a fine statue or fountain, with skilful spirited individuals. The city treasury can do landscape gardening for an ally, might make its share in giving smooth, clean streets, hand- really beautiful. Let each be considered sepasome public buildings, well-built bridges and rately, with proper regard to the whole. Let there attractive parks, and that spirit of civic pride be a free field for the suggestion of clever ideas. which has made so many cities beautiful must be Perhaps there might even be small prizes for the counted upon to provide such works of art as best plans. Who can say but that a happy stroke exist primarily for the sake of beauty, such as of invention might captivate the fancy of some picture galleries and sculpture. The course of one able and willing to give it embodiment in development is something like this: (1) Now and stone and bronze? The lack of such a concrete then some person of means erects a memorial, and convincing ideal is often the chief bar to probably to some member of his family; (2) giving. The unpaid services of such skilled citizens who take a vital interest in the improve volnnteers should at least be rewarded by a deferment of their town continue to contribute for art ence to expert judgment, which is still to be purposes, as in the support of a picture gallery, cultivated in the American public. or the purchase of works of sculpture; (3) this Such an association might well include among organization takes unofficially an advisory rela- its functions the selection of appropriate subjects tion ; (4) an official board is appointed with con- for works of municipal sculpture. The value of trol over the public art of the municipality ; (5) a monument is doubled wben it adds historical the public comes to appreciate the value of such interest to artistic beauty, as in the case of the things so highly as to appropriate funds for their Shaw memorial in Boston, or the statue of Deacon purchase and conservation.
Chapin as “The Puritan." Indeed, most public A few great cities like Paris have already monuments in the United States have paid such reached the last stage, and Paris has in addition exclusive regard to history that art has suffered. the wealth of France behind it. But for most The sentiment of the great army of volunteers in American cities the end must be gained by the cape overcoats leaning on their muskets at the top encouragement and effective use of private gifts. of tall civil war monuments, from one end of the In Springfield such gifts, sometimes of great country to the other, is altogether admirable, but value, have hitherto been scattering. Is it not it is a pity that it could not have had adequate time for the city to aspire to the next stage, that sculptural expression. History must give the of organized effort ? Not only is there an increase chief source of inspiration for such works of art, of momentum in such co-operation which should and the more fully the local history of a town can insure larger results, but—what is of even more be fitly set forth in sculpture, the better. Most consequence—the work is done on broader lines, American towns, with their short and commonand a place is found for even the smallest contri- place past, are at a great disadvantage in this bution so that nothing is wasted. The value of respect, as compared with many insignificant vilart works to a city is not to be measured by lages of the old world. Yet Springfield, with simple addition. Much depends upon fitness and nearly three centuries behind it, ought not to be the right setting. A square, for example, may lacking in fit materials for many a fine memorial, be made or ruined by a statue; a fine statue may and such a society could do useful work by prebe practically lost for lack of a proper place for paring a list of such subjects, with the appropriate it. Quite as much depends upon sound taste and treatment. A few fine monuments of this sort an intelligent plan as upon money, and the would do more than a great deal of indiscriminate making of the plan should precede the spending giving to make the public art of the city dignified of the money.
and individual. Now, taking it for granted that from time to Hardly less important than the function of time some public-spirited person will present the suggestion is that of protest, and in case of city with something worth while in the way of a necessity such an association should not hesitate
THE ARCHITECTURAL ANNUAL
to speak out plainly. There is nothing more as New York and Boston, and their example saddening than a costly and ambitious artistic will have a powerful influence on the smaller failure. We can put up with a house or business towns. block even if it is ugly, but any work which is To conclude, Springfield need not be thought intended simply to be beautiful is intolerable if too metropolitan in her ambitions if at an early it fails in this end. It is unpleasant to criticize a date some municipal art commission of a modest well-meant offering, doubly so when a gift to the sort be set up in addition to such a volunteer body people is contemplated. But it is infinitely better as is suggested above. Why wait until a great and kinder for criticism to come in advance than many bungling efforts have been made without a for an ugly thing to be set up when it and the directing head. The very fact that the city is taste of its givers will be flouted and jeered at for almost at the beginning is all the more reason for all time. In such matters principles must be put making its start wisely. If there is even one above sensibilities. The authorities of the Boston modest art work to be set up, let that be chosen public library rejected “The Bacchante,"
The Bacchante," not wisely and put in the best possible place, and to because it lacked merit, nor (as the malicious said) insure this there must be a body of competent because it is nude, but because it is not appropriate persons who have responsibility and authority. for the designated place. Now that the outcry If there is little to do, let that little be done well. has died away, it is seen that they were guided It would have been a benefit to the city if it could by a large and wise view, and had the courage to have enjoyed the services of such a commission set aside a tempting offer because it did not fit for the last half-century. Many mistakes might into the general plan. Such a spirit must prevail have been avoided which are now irretrievable. if a city is to be made really beautiful and not a Paris owes much of its rare and symmetrical mere bazaar of artistic odds and ends.
beauty to the services of the various commissions, In a way our comparative lack of statues and which have full authority over its public buildother works of open-air art is not an unmixed ings, bridges, monuments, sculpture of all kinds, misfortune. If we had more, many of them would pictures, and even such details as the street signs be bad, and every bad statue is a double misfor- and lamp posts, and the little kiosks where the tune. It is ugly in itself and it takes the place of newspapers are sold. In Boston and New York a good one. Next to a good monument a free the art commissions are being given increased place for one is most to be desired. If wise action powers, and their value is more and more appreis taken it should now be possible, if not to secure
ciated. Nor is there any reason why a progresalways a masterpiece, at least to escape the mon- sive city of the smaller sort should not profitably strosities from wbich some of the larger cities follow their example. It is not a question of cost, suffer which have had their streets and parks pre- but of a wise direction of whatever expenditure maturely filled with statuary. It may or may not is made. There is reason to believe that thorbe true that the general level of artistic culture oughly competent men could be found who would has advanced—there is certainly still plenty of be willing to serve, and the existence of such a ignorance to be found everywhere. But within board, if so constituted as to command universal the past few years vastly more enlightened views respect, would not only guard against any false have gained currency in regard to the administra- steps, but would be a constant stimulus. The tion of such things. The theory of municipal art beautifying of a city with noble and dignified has made great strides, and there is more willing sculpture is not a thing to be done off-hand, and ness to follow the example of the most artistic every step should be taken with wisdom and forecities of Europe in intrusting the matter to ex- thought. But is there not some one even now perts. The provincialism which characterized who is able and willing to match “The Puritan' the artistic efforts of American towns, until a with another worthy product of American sculpvery short time ago, will soon be outgrown. The ture? Here is a very definite and concrete way new ideal is progressing swiftly in such cities to help make a beautiful city.