Visual Art

Love Field's New "Public Art" Might Be Cool, If You Could Get Close Enough to See It

The most visually stimulating thing at the new Love Field terminal is the Cinnabon sign.

There's been a lot of hoohah this week over seven new commissioned "public" artworks at the terminal. Dixie Friend Gay's "North Texas Sunrise" (2013) is a wall of mosaic tile at the entrance. It's a lovely piece depicting our wildflowers, composed of solid color fragments of tile no bigger than your palm, but unless you get close, it looks like a painting. No one was getting close except for the odd security guard eyeballing the lines. The layout of the space is about airport security, not art appreciation, so Gay's efforts are reduced to decoration. But at least I could find it.

I also found Sherry Owens' "Back in a Moment" (2012), a supercool bronze installation of tree forms encircled by real trees. It's an inviting outdoor work in a small courtyard, but the door to that courtyard was locked. Looking at it through a dirty window is a cruel joke. What could have been a badass experience is reduced to the artistic equivalent of girl-crushing on an unattainable manic pixie dreamgirl.

Why is artwork being put behind locked glass? Whose idea was that?

See also: The rest of Betsy Lewis' art reviews.

As I continued my mapless quest for the much-publicized "public" art of Love Field, an announcement came over the loud speaker, inducing flashbacks to Schimelpfenig Middle School circa 1983 and reminding everyone to keep their lugguage with them at all times and to report suspicious persons. This freaked me out, as a) middle school sucks, and b) I had just been trying to open a locked door and was taking pictures inside an airport terminal. I did ask if that was okay, and while I was supplied press images (and even a map), I never heard a decisive yay or nay on shooting my own fabulous iPhone photographs. I was yelled at for this at the Mockingbird Station DART terminal back in grad school, so I'm aware that it makes people nervous and that makes me nervous and being nervous might make me a suspicious person. This was unnerving.

I saw an interesting work by the ticketing area, which I later discovered was David Newton's "Dallas History Medallion." It was roped off and the suspicious persons announcement had just been made, so I stayed the hell back. No one in the ticketing line was close to it either. It looked like a good fit with the Art Deco in Fair Park, but it's wasted here.

That was intimate compared to a ceiling-hung piece that I could see from way down the corridor, upstairs by the gates exit. I was stopped by an ominous DO NOT ENTER sign. What I could see from that distance was pretty cool, but no cooler than spotting Val Kilmer at the Nasher last weekend for two seconds. That art is for paying Southwestern ticket holders. I couldn't find anymore after that (there were three more somewhere, but not for me). Here is a statement of the obvious: Standing in line to pass security clearance undermines accessible public art.

I recognize that airports are targets and security comes first. But if an institution is going to congratulate itself for bringing art to the people, then deliver, because it has been done before to fabulous result by Northpark Mall. The bar high. If I need to be a paying customer of Southwest Airlines to look at an art object, it isn't public art, it's corporate wallpaper.