Chesterton Tribune



Holly Jackson trash can art another step toward beautifying the Downtown

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We tend to define art in terms of where we see it: on exhibit in the silent halls of climate-controlled museums, for sale (to those who can afford it) in posh antiseptic galleries, hanging track-lit and expensively framed on the walls of our best room.

Art is fragile, we think, it’s rarified and self-present, and so we determinedly fix it like a pinned butterfly in privileged space.

When we do see art in the public square--stripped of its usual context and dropped into a park or on a sidewalk like an aesthetic bomb--it’s typically flamboyant work, self-conscious and ironic: massive sculptures like Sir Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (otherwise known as The Bean) in Millennium Park; or one-off installations like the CowParade in Chicago in 1999. Art like this is all about scale and juxtaposition. It surprises, entertains, amuses. But few would seriously argue that it fills and feeds the soul.

The Chesterton Branding Leadership Team (BLT), on the other hand, has an altogether different idea about the role of art in the public square: art as grace note; art as ennobler of the common and drab; art as quiet background.

Last week the Street Department rolled out its new line of trash cans in the Downtown, wrapped in the paintings of longtime Chesterton artist Holly Jackson, as photographed by Dan Bruhn and prepared and applied by Digital Graphic Solutions LLC. There are 17 cans placed along Broadway and Calumet Road, each featuring one of four of Jackson’s paintings: Beauty on Nine (2017), Don’t Be a Coward About You (2017), Silver Lining (2014), and Ode to G.O. (2007),

The project is the first of the BLT’s Art & Beautification Committee, chaired by Wendy Marciniak, executive director of the Chesterton Art Center, who originally approached Jackson. “Chesterton is rich with artist-residents,” Marciniak said. “We had so many when it came time to choose one for our first project, but we asked Holly Jackson not only because her work is so vibrant and beautiful but also because for the last 13 years Holly has invested in the community by having her working studio in our Downtown. She welcomes visitors to stop in, watch her work, view her collection, or just talk art. In our minds, she was the perfect choice.”

Jackson, headquartered at 103 S. Second St., is a classically trained artist with a loyal following, and she admits at first having to give Marciniak’s proposal some serious thought. “I wondered if I should have my art on trash cans,” she told the Chesterton Tribune. “I mean, what artist puts her art on trash cans? What would my collectors think? But then I thought it would be a nice exposure: It’s an everyday object and we’re taking art to the people.”

“What would Vincent van Gogh do?” she added, laughing. “Well, Vincent’s on everything.” And he is: coffee cups, umbrellas, tote bags, and key chains, all of which are the richer for the association.

In fact Jackson’s art elevates the humble trash can, beautifies the thing, makes it a different thing entirely: no longer a receptacle but a canvas in three dimensions which might in passing be used as receptacle. Her pieces are boldly lined celebrations of the Dunes, dreamy blends of the vibrant and muted, interior landscapes suggestive of her Impressionistic and Abstract Expressionistic roots. What drives her art? “It’s easier to say what drives me,” Jackson said. “I tap into something inside me that’s growing. I make up my own language, my own world, that no one has ever seen before.”

For Marciniak, Jackson’s paintings are just the first step in enhancing the Downtown’s curb appeal. “Public art, especially in small communities such as ours, adds a sense of uniqueness and charm and truly enlivens public spaces,” she said. “The collaboration of town officials and visionaries shows that people who live and work here are invested in making gathering places that are appealing, thought-provoking, and fun for all ages. Investing in public art brings people together. And Thomas Centennial Park is the perfect gathering place to enjoy all the Downtown has to offer and public art. Expect to see more of it.”

The wraps are designed to be removed and replaced with new ones, and right now the Art & Beautification Committee is interested in how well they’ll withstand the weather and direct sunlight. The trash cans themselves--constructed of power-coated, paint-finished, heavy-duty steel--cost $12,000. The wraps, $3,400. The Town Council approved the purchase of both with CEDIT funds.


Posted 6/7/2018




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