Slob Art

One question to the City Council, and the architects who did these designs:


What a way to start a day folks.. this one nearly had my cereal bowl flying off the table.

Seems to me we have been here before, friends. Anyone remember the idea for a concrete staircase descending into Market Square from.. oh, what - about a year ago? Artist's concepts and all?

In a conversation a year ago, with a recently departed person from a very important Downtown organization, I clearly remember bringing up the idea of the stone staircase (which I had read about in the Times). The reaction was not quite so supportive. But still, the more I thought on the idea - the more I came to like it.

A sweeping stone (or concrete) staircase descending from the pedestrian walkway, depositing people neatly at the base of the city market area would not have been a bad thing. With appropriate lighting and railing, it might even blend with it's surroundings.

Plus - sweeping staircases have a way of becoming public meeting spots. Hang-outs for the local "youts," places for "arteests" to practice their craft, and even a simple place to squat and gobble lunch on a nice day.

But no... not this.

What brains we have leading us, what grand vision for the future of our fair city. To have the foresight to allow the "Wreck of the Hesperus" monument and Art Museum to be built, so it would not look so out of place alongside this.

I guess we should re-name Salem Ave. between Jefferson and Williamson "Slob Art Row."

Of course, this is being done in an attempt to create a European-style Plaza. But whats being missed (and this is an issue I take mostly with the architects, and only deride the council for not being better educated on the subject) is that most Euro-plazas are.. how to say it, vintage? They are simple in design, fairly open with one or two large features. A staircase and fountain, or a statue and seating. The artists, concessions, and all the rest come in time - they aren't programmed in.

To be honest about it - the best example I can think of for a true Euro-style plaza in the USA would be Washington Square Park in NYC. It has a mix of both concrete and green space, and the population one would expect of Greenwich Village. A population which supports the park, and gives it life.

These are things you cannot program in, you cannot pre-plan for.

But far and above, my favorite moment from the article is the sudden redefinition of the "buzzword du jour" for the City Council. Amphitheater. All 3 designs displayed for the council have "amphitheater functions." Well, that and the sudden appearance of a fishing pier in the midst of Downtown Roanoke (see the $3.5 million dollar concept if you wish).

I do appreciate the fact that Hillary Burcham is advertising in advance the "healthy discussion on the markets future in December", but Alfred "I'm not Carlton" Dowe let loose a head-scratcher.

"In general, I really do like the concept" said Councilman Dowe, "but frankly, the balance that I and the rest of the council will have to deal with is wether or not the timing of the use of the funds is the most expedient thing versus the enhancement of, say, the actual market building itself or incentives to lure another hotel downtown (?!? -rf), or a grocery store - some of the things we already know we need versus something we'd love to have."


And our Vice-Mayor and Vice-President of the Vague and Confused branch of the City Council, Mr. Trinkle added this: "I'm a supporter of the concept of doing something that creates more usage of that space and funnels people into the market area, wether this should be done before or after the Market building is something we should probably all need to address."

And some of you folks voted for these people? How did you understand them?

But kudos to Bus-Drivin' Bev for laying out in the open. The Plaza "is a public space that never had any focus. Any way we might go here we're way ahead of where we've been."

I'll provide further clarification on the "Slob Art" concept, should you need it. Just ask. But between these designs and the AMWV - I'd say that pretty much takes care of everything.

I need to go take some Rolaids now, my stomach is still churning.

I wonder if the council realizes the light at the end of the tunnel they seem to see is really New Jersey?