They're Voting on White Rock Theater Thursday (Y'Know, the Poles That Turn Birds Into Art)

The view from the Bath House Cultural Center.
The view from the Bath House Cultural Center.
Lauren Smart

Public art in Dallas is a complicated world. In front of City Hall, we have a Henry Moore sculpture; then, this year, the city offered 50 measly dollars for artists to yarn bomb parking meters. Like a lot of things in Dallas, the cost of maintenance and preservation looms more ominously than the wrecking ball. New and ephemeral trumps stalwart and preserved. But this is not about my feelings toward the city of Dallas' interests, or lack thereof, in creating a sustainable, history-rich community; it's about a series of poles that poke out of White Rock Lake.

White Rock Theater -created by Frances Bagley and Tom Orr - sits directly between the Bath House Cultural Center and downtown Dallas. It's in such a poor state, that this piece of public art and the lack of maintenance revived a conversation about the city's responsibility in caring for the art it bought. When it seemed the best option was to remove it, KERA's Jerome Weeks ran an extensive report on the debacle, talking to arts advocates who said, "de-accessioning would set a bad precedent. Dallas bought a public artwork and then, through its own policies, neglected it - until it had to destroy it."

This conversation about how public art in Dallas should be created and then treated won't end Thursday night, but there will be a vote. At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the Cultural Affairs Commission votes on what to do about the White Rock Theater. Have an opinion? Show up to the Latino Cultural Center and share it.

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