LOVE Park

This project seems like a great time to consider the responsibilities of artists creating public works and the way the public actually responds to these pieces. Edmund Bacon was the designer of LOVE Park here in Philadelphia. It was built during the 1960s and became a skate landmark in the 1990s (here is a video that conveys just how much skateboarders came to love the park: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMRwKBrJ_UU). Yet in 2000, a bill was passed banning skating in the park because it was “damaging to urban environments.” I don’t know if you all have visited LOVE, but, in the decade that has passed, it has quite frankly become a frightening place. A 2003 survey said 69% of Philadelphians would prefer to open the park back up to skateboarders, and DC Shoes offered to pay $1 million to maintain the area and have it reopened to skateboarders. In the video here, the designer of the park himself urges Philadelphia’s authorities to reopen LOVE to skaters. While the video may be adorable and hilarious, it also poses an important question: “If a work of public art was so warmly embraced by a particular group–to the approval of the public and the artist–why would the government step in and try to alter this response?” To me, the bill was a thinly veiled rejection of a misunderstood subculture. In this instance, the artist did his part–creating an engaging work of art– and the public did its part–interacting with the work–, and the government quite simply fucked up.

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