QUESTION: Mayor Zeidler, I saw a piece on outdoor art on the television last night. I was curious, does Williamsburg have any plans to exhibit outdoor art? I noticed some cows over at the Outlet Mall … what’s the history of those? And do you have plans for more cows or other art throughout the city? Thanks!
ANSWER: People will probably be surprised to know that the City of Williamsburg has a fair amount of outdoor art in our relatively small city. When the Community Building was built and the Library Plaza created in City Square in 1999, some thought was given to public art in that area. In the fountain area of the Library Plaza a copy of the Frenchman’s Map from the Revolutionary War period was etched in granite. Just across from it in front of the Library is a sculpture of George Washington, also installed in 1999. On the Scotland Street side of the Library are two contemporary sculptures, one a group of books and the other a globe. On Merchants Square is the fun sculpture of Thomas Jefferson on a Bench. Moving to the campus of the College of William and Mary, there are a number of statues of notable people from William and Mary’s past including Lord Botetourt in the Wren Yard, and Thomas Jefferson and James Blair on the old campus. On the new campus are several contemporary sculptures, and the water tubes in the front wall of the Muscarelli Museum of Art. In addition, the signs for tradesmen, shops, and taverns in the Historic Area are another form of outdoor art that is special to our community. Adding to our public art inventory is a good idea but the work and its location must be carefully selected.
The cows at the Outlet Mall are part of a program called “Cows on the Move” which began in Chicago. Several other cities have invited artists to paint and decorate premade forms such as the cows in Chicago, Buffalos in Buffalo, New York, or Mermaids in Norfolk. Those types of programs do not seem suited to Williamsburg which has a world renowned historic area and strict architectural guidelines for many parts of the city.
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