Art and Culture

JAN 2018

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48 art&culture Art, Space & Society THE NEW FACE OF PALM BEACH COUNTY, PUBLIC ART HAS BECOME A PILLAR OF THE COMMUNITY—AND A SYMBOL OF GROWTH By Lola Thélin and Michelle Lee Ribeiro Anyone visiting Palm Beach County's many diverse cities can't help but notice the art lin- ing the streets and parks. Once stymied by op- position, code violations, and rejection, public art is having a moment—one that looks like it's going to last. "When we started this, we had to fight tooth and nail to get anything approved," says Raphael Clemente, executive director of the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority. "Now, 10 years later, we can't stop it." It was 2007 when Clemente says he had his aha moment. "I started thinking very differently about creating value in your community by making it beautiful and engaging people," he recalls. "The idea being, you don't have to buy a ticket or wait in line to have a pleasing expe- rience—you can put something beautiful out there for everyone to enjoy." Most are familiar with the CANVAS Outdoor Museum Show that began in West Palm Beach in 2015; the free outdoor performances; and the many murals peppering the city by artists like Eduardo Mendieta, Anthony Hernandez, and Karen Bowman. "We started doing street art with local artists, and suddenly interna- tional artists wanted to come here," says Clem- ente. The DDA has also embraced the written word, installing "short story machines" around the city, where patrons can push a button and be gifted with one of 50,000 stories to read. "It's your experience, and you can keep it to yourself or choose to share it with others," says Clemente, who plans to expand the program by collaborating with a local writers guild to include more personal stories around issues

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