On nature, nurture and what you show your kids.

I could be a case study for the impact of public art on a child's development. In CultureNOW's October email newsletter they featured the work of James Wines and displayed this image of his "Ghost Parking Lot".
James Wines' "Ghost Parking Lot"
Hadn't I woken one night to a fever and a similar vision? To bury cars under the grass of the Greenway and make it appear as if they were emerging from the tunnel below? Coincidence? Seeing the photo credit (Hamden, CT 1978-2003) it all came back to me. I'd seen "Ghost Parking Lot" many, many times. Mom confirmed: "Yes, you probably saw this as a kid. It was the parking lot where we did our grocery shopping. I'd forgotten about it." I'd forgotten too. We'd left Hamden when I was about 7 and it was now 30+ years later that I recalled the fascinating and horrific site of cars trapped under asphalt.


A similar memory jog occurred in 2010 when Jonathan Lippencot published Large Scale, a history of the Lippencott sculpture production center. Also in the New Haven area, the factory's grounds became an unofficial sculpture park and the site of many of our family walks. Dad tells me I saw versions of Oldenburg's "Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks", but I can't remember that. I do know I am inexplicably drawn to really, really large sculpture and that it's never big enough. Maybe I am trying to recreate being smaller?


We lived modestly in Hamden. My dad was a newspaper reporter. We drove an old car and grew vegetables in the backyard. It was the 70s and failure and Utopia weren't yet used in the same sentence. And I was impressionable. But what has made the most lasting impact from those days is sculpture, or art in public spaces - especially works that are inextricably tied to their context like "Ghost Parking Lot". I want kids today to have access to the same kind of inspiration right in their neighborhoods. I want to plant in the recesses of their brains an appreciation for the different, the weird, the grotesque, the magical, the place they inhabit, or whatever experiences result from seeing a work of art in an unexpected place. I don't even care if it takes them 30+ years to credit the artist. 


With gratitude to Mr Wines and SITE Architecture and Design for putting me on this path.