Santa Paula Times

Cusick: Public Art is pleasing to the eye & spirit, as well as the local economy

October 27, 1999
Santa Paula News
Public art is not only pleasing to the eye and the spirits but can also inflate the pocketbook through tourism to a city that has such a dedicated program, according to Jessica Cusick, Public Art Supervisor for the City of Ventura. Cusick was the featured speaker at a special opening event for "The Fine Art of Public Art in Santa Paula" exhibit at the Santa Paula Union Oil Museum.Cusick is works not only for the City of Ventura but also Houston and Memphis, among others, said curator John Nichols. The ambitious public art display at the new Los Angeles MetroLink station is also a result of Cusick's efforts.A teacher of Public Art at USC, Cusick noted it is "as old as mankind. . .and think about the great old buildings or monuments that are tied to art."Some cities set-aside funding for public art often based on per capita. . .others rely on developers, she noted. Public art can commemorate "our losses and triumphs and when it proliferates it can weave art back into our everyday lives."Striving to hang on to character and uniqueness of the community is one function fulfilled by public art, Cusick noted, and today artists are even "figuring out ways to take everyday building materials and translate them into art," often offering inventive solutions to any development.Public art is not a "precious art or art that can't withstand the rigors of time," and isn't always confined to the visual, she added.
Such art not only "tells stories of a a community and neighborhood, but when well-received and maintained it can create a sense of ownership. . .artists can give a new way to look at your own city," Cusick said. "It's the big things as well as the little things that can really change a neighborhood, and it doesn't have to be permanent, it can be created for a temporary celebration," and range in size from big to small.Such projects can involve local groups as contributing artists, even school children."There are layers of discovery in public art," said Cusick, who used a slide show of impressive public art works to illustrate her lecture.