California Forum

The Conversation: Public art and women artists

Janet Echelman’s sculpture “Her Secret is Patience” floats above downtown Phoenix.
Janet Echelman’s sculpture “Her Secret is Patience” floats above downtown Phoenix. The Republic

The debate over public art for Sacramento returned last week as Kathrine Lemke Waste wrote about the lack of women artists represented in “museums and public parks, notable galleries or high-end auction halls.” She proposed that with the remaining money left for public art at the downtown arena, Sacramento should commission a celebrated woman artist. She pointed out several women artists, including Janet Echelman, Patti Warashina, Alice Aycock and Liz Wolf.

We asked the questions: What do you think of Janet Echelman’s ethereal sculptures? Should Sacramento commission a celebrated woman artist for the downtown arena?


Art for our city’s sake

Re “Take aim at a bigger legacy” (Forum, April 26): Kathrine Lemke Waste offers a glimpse of what could be if only Sacramento “Artacrats” had the vision it requires to recognize relatable art for our city. Gender plays less a role in the power of art to provoke identity and/or creativity than does the artist’s commitment to saying something with a unique process that also elevates and explores meaning in a particular setting.

By any standard, the ethereal sculpture titled “Her Secret is Patience” by Janet Echelman is far more inviting and evocative than Jeffrey Koons’ amorphous coloring book blob nicknamed, “Piglet.” Rather than taking the high road with something as powerful as Echelman’s work, those in power have chosen work by an artist dedicated to selling Sacramento one example from his edition of highly derivative subjects.

Our great city is being compared to the unwitting tourist on vacation who needed something to fill that alcove by the bathroom and liked the shiny colors that didn’t force them to think too hard.

Sean T. Taylor, Sacramento

Koons or Echelman?

For the price of one sculpture by a male, we should/could/have to consider more than one sculpture by more than one female artist. Let’s start with a stellar piece by Janet Echelman. After one year, add a second female artist and another female artist after a third year.

Sacramento, wake up and become a trailblazer. I, for one, am a male lover of art. I search for equal opportunity, not only in employment but especially in art.

Urs Zangger, Mount Aukum

From Facebook

Brook Silvernail – After this debacle, you’d think they’d listen to the public and spend the money on local artists.

Susan Hunn – Yes! Let’s have a fantastic ethereal Janet Echelman sculpture floating above the new downtown arena. As Katherine Lemke Waste asks “What could be more appropriate?” Not to mention breathtaking.

Josh Garrett – Art needs to be appreciated for art it’s self. Why do we need to label everything with “it was created by a (fill in the blank)”? An artist’s talent should be recognized on its own merits, not by a crutch of a label.

Maureen Price – Well, nobody said Sacramento officials had any taste in art. Look at what we ended up with. I would so much rather have the art pictured Janet Echelman. No matter if she was a woman or not. It’s beautiful.

David Hughes – How about local artists? Local artists of every description.

Tami Aschenbrenner – A woman artist? Absolutely.