Why does public art often incite critical backlash? Do we need to defend it? Do we need it at all? Art In the Public Eye is a trio of events that takes on the pleasures and controversies of art—and raises hard questions for each of us about creativity, responsibility and the place of art in our lives.

The Lennie Pierro Memorial Arts Foundation (Pierro Foundation), the Montclair Art Museum (MAM), the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), and the Pierro Gallery of South Orange (PGOSO) announce Art in the Public Eye, a three-part program that will explore the role of public art in communities and the controversies it can sometimes engender. The program consists of a panel discussion (October 22), an exhibition (on view October 29-November 5), and a public reading of three one-act plays (November 8). as a collaboration of the Pierro Foundation with MAM, SOPAC, and PGOSO.

The first event is Art in the Public Eye: A Panel Discussion at the Montclair Art Museum on Thursday, October 22.  Admission is free. The panelists represent a variety of perspectives and will discuss the issues and concerns that arise in the creation of public art installations and how they may engage their communities in dialogue. Art critic Dan Bischoff will serve as moderator, joined by panelists Joseph Jacobs, art historian and curator, and major contributor to the newly revised Janson's History of Art; Svetlana Mintcheva, director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship; and celebrated artist Dread Scott, whose use of the American flag in his art resulted in a Supreme Court case and a landmark First Amendment decision. This panel is co-sponsored by the Pierro Foundation and the Montclair Art Museum.  

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The next event is the exhibition Art in the Public Eye: What's All the Fuss? In this era of rapid social and political change, art often challenges viewers with today’s hot button topics, compelling us to see changing ideas from multiple perspectives. This exhibition examines the work of artists who investigate the controversial subjects that spark public discussions today. Guest Curators are Judy Wukitsch (Pierro Foundation) and Raleigh Ceasar (Independent Curator and Artist). It opens Thursday, October 29, 7-9 pm with a public reception and continues through November 25 at the Pierro Gallery at the Baird Center in South Orange. Admission is free. The event is sponsored by the Pierro Gallery/Village of South Orange and the Pierro Foundation

The final event is Art in the Public Eye: 3 One Acts, November 8, 2015, 3:00 pm inThe Loft at SOPAC. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at www.SOPACnow.org or by calling (973) 313-2787.  Through a public competition, the Pierro Foundation commissioned three one-act plays to explore the controversies that often surround the creation and installation of public art. The plays will be presented as a concert reading with professional actors and directors, followed by a moderated discussion. In these three debuts, the audience gains insight into creativity, surviving in the arts, funding vs. artistic decisions and what gets promoted, and the role of art in our lives.  The program is a co-production of the Pierro Foundation and SOPAC. 

WHO ARE WE?

About the Lennie Pierro Memorial Arts Foundation (Pierro Foundation)

Lennie Pierro Memorial Arts Foundation (Pierro Foundation): a private 501c3 organization, was created in 2002 honoring the late South Orange resident Lennie Pierro, artist, professor, and co-founder of the Pierro Gallery. The Pierro Foundation seeks to bring a deeper artistic experience to a broad range of visitors as well as the participating artists and to make art easily accessible to all for the health and vitality of the individual as well as the community. The Pierro Foundation achieves this through public art installations, lectures, enrichment programs, teacher grants, and/or special events. The first initiative was the Tony Smith Project, the installation of the monumental sculpture, Tau, by South Orange native, Tony Smith, located in Meadowland Park, South Orange, New Jersey. 

www.pierrofoundation.org

About the Montclair Art Museum (MAM)

The Montclair Art Museum, a notable, community-based institution with an international reputation, boasts a renowned collection of American and Native American art that uniquely highlights art making in the United States over the last three hundred years. The Museum’s education programs serve a wide public and bring artists, performers, and scholars to the Museum on a regular basis. MAM’s Yard School of Art is the leading regional art school, offering a multitude of comprehensive courses for children, teens, adults, seniors, and professional artists. 

http://www.montclairartmuseum.org.

About the South Orange Performing Art Center (SOPAC)

Opening its doors in 2006, SOPAC quickly became a regional destination for experiencing world-class music, theatre, dance, comedy, and visual art in a modern, yet intimate space. SOPAC’s stunning 3-story glass-enclosed atrium and expansive façade is the welcoming symbol that was envisioned by community leaders more than a decade ago. The 439-seat mainstage theatre and 2,170 square-foot urban-style loft are used year-round for performances, rehearsals, classes, and more. Singer-songwriters, Jazz and Blues artists, dancers, actors and other artists appreciate the boutique atmosphere that encourages conversations with audiences.

About the Pierro Gallery of South Orange (PGOSO)

The Pierro Gallery of South Orange (PGOSO), part of the Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, enhances the cultural environment of South Orange and the surrounding communities by presenting the work of diverse, established and emerging visual artists in a non-commercial, user-friendly venue. 

www.pierrogallery.org

FUNDING PARTNERS:

NJCH HUMANITIES:

Art in the Public Eye: A Panel Discussion is made possible, in part, by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this panel do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. 

Art in the Public Eye: What’s All the Fuss? is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Village of South Orange.  

Art in the Public Eye: 3 One Acts are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Essex county division of Cultural and Historic Affairs, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.