The Keizer Chamber Foundation has held two fundraisers so far this year and received a generous $5,000 donation from Outback Steakhouse. The foundation funnels money to the Keizer Network of Women’s (KNOW) primary project, the Christmas Basket Program that delivers food and toys to underprivileged families and children in Keizer.
The foundation also funds and oversees the Keizer Public Art project that has installed art along River Road. The Christmas Basket program is going strong. The public art project? Not so much. The art program has become anemic; no new art has been installed since 2011. No new art sites have been announced.
A city’s public art communicates to visitors and residents alike that it is not insular; it is part of the world at large. Art, whether hanging on a wall at the civic center, or standing along River Road, should elicit conversation and discussion. All art pieces don’t need to promote debate, but it should look good and enhance its surroundings.
Public art in Keizer has financial backing from the Chamber Foundation, it only needs a facilitator. We hope that the Keizer Art Association would look beyond its classroom and gallery and help choose sites and jury art to be added to the program.
In existence for more than 35 years, the Keizer Art Association has, in some ways, been the cultural center of the city. Its gallery hosts monthly exhibits including the Black, White and Gray Show and the Colored Pencil Society Show. The association’s leadership has ebbed and flowed; but by committing to be a major part of the public art program, it can take its rightful place as a pillar of Keizer life.
Though Keizer is a conservative city its public art can be bold, provocative and daring so as to induce discussion. That doesn’t mean installing art a person would be ashamed to have their grandmother see. Beauty is in the eye of the holder and you’ll never have total agreement on the aesthetic value of any one piece, that’s the, ahem, beauty of art. It evokes positive or negative emotions and it promotes—one hopes—lively debate. Anything that gets people talking, especially kids, is not a bad thing.
The Chamber Foundation needs to keep its commitment about public art. It has raised the money. Now it’s time to find a person or organization that can seriously take Keizer Public Art to the next level, add more pieces and make River Road an art gallery from one end to the other. Some people may not like the art, but at the very least, everyone will notice and everyone will have something to say.