On June 4, the Cultural Arts Commission and JC Parks welcomed "Dissident" to Capitol Avenue in Jefferson City.
The public sculpture has been installed along the sidewalk in front of 619 E. Capitol Ave. Dissident was awarded to the City of Jefferson Cultural Arts Commission through the Sculpture on the Move, a program provided by Creative Communities Alliance. Participating communities rent a sculpture for a two-year period, making it more affordable than purchasing the sculpture.
"Dissident" was created by Cape Girardeau artist Ben Pierce. Standing 10 feet tall, the abstract piece is made of welded steel and macropoxy paint. The great thing about abstract pieces like this is it can mean something different for everyone when viewing it.
To me, it represents Jefferson City's unique identity. The oculus in the sculpture provides a frame for the Capitol dome when looking west and the Missouri State Penitentiary redevelopment area when looking east. It honors our tradition of history, as well as our future.
The sculpture sits in front of the site where the community arts venue Avenue HQ once stood. This venue heavily supported the arts community in Jefferson City by providing a space for music, comedy, theater, food, visual arts and a hub for artists during the annual Porchfest JCMO cultural arts festival. Last May, when Jefferson City was hit with the tornado, Avenue HQ was one of the places we lost.
This piece of art, named Dissident (which means to oppose), was itself created out of a piece of damaged art and resembles the beauty of that corner. One of the owners of Avenue HQ commented, "It may be a different type of sculpture at first glance, but in truth, it is very fitting for this spot. See, our building never really 'fit' in this neighborhood, it was not historic, it was not 'pretty', but it was a labor of love, and our team created a spot full of art of all kinds in this space."
It also reminded her of the steel beams of their building and how they were twisted in the tornado.
Everyone likes art in one way or another because it's all around us in our everyday lives. But enjoying art can be a subjective experience. Subjectivity in art explains how different people can respond to a work of art in different ways. It is based on personal opinions and feelings, rather than on agreed facts. A painting or piece of artwork might be "beautiful" to one person and "ugly" to another, but the material object remains unchanged.
Art is supposed to make us feel something, good or bad. One thing we all know is there is not enough art in Jefferson City!
The Cultural Arts Commission consists of eight members appointed by the City Council. The commission leads in promoting collaboration among the arts and business, government, education institutions and community residents. Its mission is to ensure the arts are integral to our community's quality of life, economic vitality and central identity. It has been charged with investigating ways to include arts and culture in the community, review funding options and to make recommendations back to the council about how to achieve these goals. The commission hopes to nurture and enhance the livability, community cohesiveness and local artistic talent with these projects.
The Cultural Arts Commission joined the Sculpture on the Move program in 2018 with our first sculpture, "Grandiloquence," which has been located at Ellis-Porter Riverside Park for the two-year time frame. That sculpture will be leaving at the end of June and replaced with a new sculpture called "Soccer Dude" by the artist Gonz Jove from St. Louis.
The Cultural Arts Commission is very excited to help Jefferson City become more progressive with new community art throughout town!
Leann Porrello is the cultural arts specialist with Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry.