On Television: Is There Anything Less Appealing Than Public Art?


I was on 6:30 Point of View last night with Chris Berg and NDGOP Executive Director Jason Flores. Our topic was the controversy surrounding Fargo City Commission member Melissa Sobolik’s decision not to recuse herself from the vote putting her new boss on the city’s new public art commission.

Sobolik was the head of the city-formed task force to create the commission even before she voted for her boss. Clearly, there is an appearance of impropriety when an elected official who helps create a government commission to funnel big money into arts, and votes to appoint a prominent member of the arts community to that commission, suddenly gets a job in the arts from said prominent member of the arts community.

It’s all just a bit too pat to be kosher, in my mind.

But here’s a related point I made during the discussion: Is there anything less appealing than public art?

When I think of art – good art, anyway – I think of things that are inspiring. Provocative. Ideas – shapes, colors, narratives, etc. – which push the boundaries and challenge the public. Can anyone imagine that sort of thing emerging from the bureaucracy of government?

Inevitably a public art commission is going to sanction some form of art which upsets a portion of the public. Those people will inevitably complain that their tax dollars are being used to support something offensive to them. And they’ll have a point.

Which is why we shouldn’t have a public art commission.

I’m all for supporting the arts, but that sort of thing should be done privately.