A recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, brought to mind the importance of public, and private, art in our public spaces, and showed how we all can contribute to that art. The Malecon Boardwalk, adjacent to the Old Town, is the most obvious display of these public works. A number of thought provoking, interactive sculptures stand next to the sea, and give pause to busy commerce. Children and adults climb on, pose with, sketch and photograph these sculptures, and performers (living statues) can change the nature and dynamic of the sculptures. Millions of visitors stroll by and photograph this work annually.
This display of public art has both stemmed from, and seems to feed, a vibrant private/public art community and other, less formal, public art. A wall separating the street from a private courtyard had been transformed into a mosaic of community images, a center of messages, and, though the use of small mirrors, viewer inclusion into the mosaic. It turned what could otherwise have been a cold, exclusionary border into a welcoming space.
Another artist created sand masterpieces that were remarkable both for their beauty and for their impermanence, The knowledge that this sculpture would, over a short period of time, decay into a formless mound gave one the sense that the sculpture was somehow special to them, and that it needed to be appreciated in the moment.