In her book, The Annotated Mona Lisa, Carol Strickland argues that Michelangelo did more than anyone to elevate the status of the artist. The famous sculptor would applaud the Arts Council of Lake Oswego’s efforts to do the same. A non-profit organization started in 1999 to ensure that the arts were woven into the fabric of Oregon’s Lake Oswego community, their Gallery Without Walls program is one that Michelangelo would have loved. Here are three reasons why.
1. It gets the art out where people can see it. According to Michelangelo, “ A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it.” Thanks to the Gallery Without Walls, local as well as national and international sculptors’ works are being seen. Located in public spaces in parks and along city streets, Lake Oswegans don’t have to go out of their way to be exposed to art. There are 55 pieces in the collection—30 on loan from artists for two years—and the rest in the City’s permanent collection. Brochures are available for self-guided tours and the Arts Commission holds free docent led tours as well. There’s also a free app that highlights the sculptures and offers a variety of tours.
2. There is a variety to appeal to every artistic taste. Referring back to our virtual expert once again, Michelangelo said, “The best of artists has no conception that the marble alone does not contain within itself.” While not all the Gallery Without Walls sculptors work with marble, they have let their work evolve out of their chosen materials. The divine M would have marveled at the mediums ranging from his favorite—marble–to steel, wood, granite, recycled objects and more. The subject matter casts a wide artistic net as well with the playful Jazz Drummer to the abstract, The Guardian.
3. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately Michelangelo passed away before seeing the long lines of tourists winding their way outside the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence to ooh and aah over his masterpiece, David. He often seemed like the tormented artist, unappreciated for all his hard work. But Lake Oswegans get a chance every year to vote for their favorite sculpture, giving that artist not only recognition but a paycheck as well. The People’s Choice Winner then becomes part of the City’s permanent collection. I have a feeling Michelangelo would have preferred this method of payment to the patronage system he had to rely on during the Renaissance where bosses like the Medici family got too involved in dictating his works rather than just letting him sit back and create.
Do you have a favorite piece in the Gallery Without Walls? Let us know what it is.