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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

Art in Public Places Juror Discusses the Process

Vaughn Whitney Garland, juror for Bristol's 2007 Art in Public Places project.
Vaughn Whitney Garland, juror for Bristol's 2007 Art in Public Places project.

June 27, 2007

The juror for Bristol's 2007 Art in Public Places (AiPP) is Vaughn Whitney Garland, Director of the Arts Library at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond. A graduate of Emory & Henry College, Garland earned his MFA in painting/printmaking from VCU. He founded and ran Richmond's public art project in 2005 and 2006.

While Garland reviewed submissions for the AiPP project, A! Magazine for the Arts asked Garland a couple of questions:

A! Magazine — How do you approach this process?

Choosing work for a show, collection, or location is always difficult because you should choose a work that will benefit both parties involved — the work and the place. For this show I think I retreated to how I felt walking around these same streets as a child. There is a historical willingness about Bristol that mixes with a modern elegance to suggest a lifestyle of strength, so anything that would comment on that power jumped out at me during the selection.

All artists learn there is a language to art that relies on unremitting and underlying definitions like line, color, texture, and so on. So when looking at a work for the first time, an artist usually reaches back and starts from those properties. There we have a base to launch. After the base is determined, the discussion of how it fits into the location and even into the judgment of the viewer breaks down to a personal awareness. I choose the pieces from a personal viewpoint but started with the theoretical/critical evaluation of the form.

A! — What are you looking for?

In my decision, I am looking for the best pieces I can find that will comment on and enhance the visual experience of Bristol, a beautiful town. The region plays a deep role in my life and my daily direction. When I am away, I return constantly to the images of the area to carry me on. These regional images are where I retreat and, during the selection of the sculptures, I found myself thinking about how the work would look in the place I love. Furthermore, I chose specific pieces to suggest a comment on how I view the town and the area, either by the beauty, the history, or the playful atmosphere.

When I started the Richmond show, I realized how difficult and exciting an event like this is to a town and region. In two years the Richmond show became a trademark of the area and the same is happening in Bristol. It is very important to bring the arts out of the regional studios and galleries for display so the community becomes aware of the visual and cultural language happening around them. Here, we all can have a dialog of beliefs and knowledge by just approaching the work. It is the event that allows the dialog to start so I am truly honored to be part of beginning of the 2007 dialog. It is even better to do this for my own home region.

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