The Newport News Public Art Foundation is dedicated to helping make Newport News an appealing place to live, work, visit and do business by placing monumental-scale works of art by respected sculptors throughout the city, where people can enjoy art as they go about their daily lives. The Foundation also works to encourage and help the public enjoy, appreciate and engage with the sculpture around them, through outreach and education programs.
- How We Work
- Who We Are
- The Case For Public Art
- Great Art in Great Cities
- Percentage for the Arts
- Other Public Art
How We Work
From idea to installation – how art comes to be in the city
lot of pieces come together between the idea of a sculpture and the installation of a sculpture. Those pieces include a site, an artist, a work of art and, of course, funding.
Often we start with a site.
High-visibility locations are at the top of our list because we want people to enjoy our art as they go about their lives. Some pieces, however, need a more intimate setting. The tenderness of Memory of Green, for example, calls for the sheltered, peaceful spot it enjoys in a grove of trees outside an office complex.
Sometimes developments are planned with sculpture in mind. It was obvious from the beginning that the important City Center project deserved important art, so the nearby traffic circle was designed to accommodate sculpture.
Sometimes we select a site first, then seek out a work that suits it. Sometimes we start with an artist whose work we think belongs in Newport News, and try to find a site that’s just right for it.
Marrying site and art is itself an art.
The strong, clean lines of Elements and Spring Breeze work well in locations where most people see them only briefly while driving by.
Izar’s soaring verticals are well suited to the airport’s entrance. The machined look of Reinvented is perfect for an industrial and office park. The gentle, unfolding calm of Spirit of Life suits a hospital grounds, and Build a Dream’s energy and movement reflect the aspirations underpinning the community revitalization project it anchors.
There are practical concerns as well.
Visibility is an issue: We need to make sure the art is easily seen by passersby and consider the angle from which they will approach it. We consider whether they’ll be in cars or on foot. We take care not to compromise the visibility at intersections.
We make sure there’s a mix of art in Newport News. Not everyone likes every piece, but a broad variety ensures that everyone can find pieces they enjoy and pieces that challenge them to think or wonder. Our collection includes both figurative and abstract works, pieces with strong traditional roots and some that are contemporary.
Once an artist is chosen, we bring them to Newport News to see the site. Sculptors are sensitive to the environment in which their work will be placed, and they need to see the context first-hand so they can take it into account as they create.
For every piece of art a funding source must be found. Sometimes, it follows naturally from the site. When the decision was made to put sculpture in front of a new building in Oyster Point, the developer stepped forward to fund it. Riverside Health System and Dr. Hugh McCormick and his family generously sponsored Spirit of Life. In other cases, we turn to the community that will enjoy the art — money for Carambola came from the neighborhood around the library where it’s placed.
The last step is installation.
It takes architects, engineers and construction crews to make sure a sculpture is secure on its foundation. Crane and rigging specialists lift the pieces which weigh thousands of pounds and put them down in place. Lighting designers work with artists to make sure each piece looks just right at night. Landscape design is customized to the site and custom benches are added at some pieces so people can stop and enjoy “their” art.
Board Of Directors
Jeff Stodghill, AIA
Principal, PMA Planners and Architects
CEO, Waters & Bridgman Marketing Solutions
Beth W. Moore, CPA
Managing Member, Beth W. Moore, CPA, PLLC
Robert L. Freeman, Jr.
President, Tower Park Corporation
Founding Chair emeritus
John C. Allen III
Landscapes by Eric Bailey
Herbert H. Bateman, Jr.
Executive Vice President, TowneBank
Anne Noland Edwards
Irving B. “Chip” Goldstein, Esq.
Goldstein, Edgar, Reagan, Roberts & Saville
Jo Louise Harding
Professor Gregory Henry
Sculptor, Artist, Associate Professor, Christopher Newport University
Artist and Curator, Contemporary Arts Network
Executive Director, Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center
Architectural Designer, PMA Architecture
Andrew D. Watson
Supervisor of Visual & Performing Arts, Newport News Public Schools
Gina Fitzhugh Wilson
CRS, Broker/Owner, Fitzhugh-Wilson Real Estate
The Case For Public Art
A city isn’t livable just because it has good jobs and housing, a nice mix of entertainment and recreation. It’s also important to feed the spirit; the arts do that.
When news shows want to let viewers know they’re talking about Wall Street, they lead with a spot of the bronze bull that’s poised nearby, ready to charge into prosperity.
Generations have made pilgrimages to see the Vatican’s Pietá, and modern travelers document their visits to the City of Brotherly Love by snapping photographs in front of Philadelphia’s pop-art tribute to love.
Public sculpture memorializes what we think is important; it lifts our spirits, it centers our civic life, it makes our world more beautiful.
Public art does many things for a city:
- It inspires pride.
- It marks special places and adds a grace note to ordinary places.
- It offers residents and visitors a source of enjoyment that’s always open, always accessible.
- It defines a sense of place and identity. It creates landmarks, and even icons that come to stand for a city. An arch’s sweep says St. Louis, the Trevi Fountain is instantly identifiable as Rome, and with just a glimpse of a stone obelisk, you know the setting is Washington, D.C.
Great Art in Great Cities
We expect to find great art in great cities. From ancient Athens where the Parthenon’s designers paid tribute to the goddess Athena, to the ever-changing outdoor exhibition in modern New York, one of the things that breathes life into beautiful cities is the art on display in streets, squares and parks.
Fortunate people don’t have to travel far to enjoy quality art. Their cities have made a decision to incorporate sculpture into public places for the enjoyment of residents and visitors. Here are some of them:
We could scarcely imagine Washington, D.C. without its monumental sculptures. Lincoln in his chair has been the backdrop for some of the nation’s important moments, and the hush of the Jefferson Memorial connects visitors to the spirit of this man and the principles that framed this nation.
With the simple reverence and profoundly personal focus of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Maya Lin changed the way the public interacts with memorial sculpture. In the slogging figures of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the blend of words and statues in the memorials to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr., the nation has found new ways to reflect its evolving history and honor those who shaped it.
Learn more about Washington’s many memorials by clicking here.
New York City is home to a lot of people — and a lot of art that’s out in public for their enjoyment and that of the millions more who visit the city each year. See some of it here.
Albuquerque’s rich offering includes mosaics and murals as well as sculpture; see more here.
Seattle has made public art a priority. Even fire stations and manhole covers show off an artistic touch. Learn more by clicking here.
You don’t have to enter a gallery to see the work of great artists in Chicago. Sculptures by Miro, Calder and Chagall are on display outdoors, and the ever-changing show in Millennium Park introduces tomorrow’s Picassos to today’s pedestrians. For more information on the City of Chicago’s art click here.
Portland, Oregon boasts of a rich offering of art, outdoors and in civic buildings; see more here.
Airports are full of people on the move, a ready audience for public art. The new Denver airport has a remarkable collection, some of it controversial. See examples here.
When Sacramento planned a new terminal at its airport, it set aside $6 million for a dozen pieces of permanent art. The busy Philadelphia airport showcases both permanent and rotating art.
Airports aren’t the only places with lots of travelers – and art for them to enjoy. When Charlotte, North Carolina, built a new light-rail system, it incorporated art into every station, much of it in functional forms such as benches , drinking fountains, lights, floors, elevator enclosures and columns. See more here about how Charlotte surrounds transit riders with art.
Percentage for the Arts
Great art has happened in many places because leaders made it happen. One of the most effective ways cities have found to do that is with “percent for the arts” programs. They decide, and pass legislation to ensure, that a portion of the money for every major publicly funded construction or renovation project is set aside for the acquisition and maintenance of permanent public art. Typically, the percentage is between .5% and 2%, with a maximum of, say, $600,000.
The city’s buildings benefit from the addition of art, inside and out, and the public benefits from having some of their tax dollars invested go to something they can enjoy, something that enhances the quality of life in their community.
Percent for the arts programs usually only apply to projects funded with public dollars, but they can create an environment that encourages private developers to make art a priority, too.
About half the states and many localities have adopted “percent for the arts” programs. Here are some of them:
|Raleigh, North Carolina
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
|Martin County, Florida
New Haven, Connecticut
At this time the City of Newport News has not adopted a “percent for the arts” program. Please be an arts advocate and request to City Council Members to adopt this program to further make art the fabric of our great city.
Other Public Art
The works of art commissioned and installed by the Newport News Public Art Foundation join a diverse body of public art that Newport News residents have enjoyed for many years. Here are some of the favorites among the pieces owned by museums, Christopher Newport University, the City of Newport News and private organizations. Take a driving tour of these favorites and the Foundation’s collection by downloading a brochure developed by the Newport News Tourism Development Department and Newport News Public Art Foundation.