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Dec 11, 2008

While spare change is a rarity, find refuge in the public art scene.

By FLYP Staff

The financial crisis might be affecting more than just your pocketbook—what about your consumption of art? If museum entry fees don’t tally with your shrinking amount of pocket cash, check out our guide to public art near you that won’t cost you a penny.

Desert Nights
Where: Scottsdale
The affluent suburb takes their public arts scene high tech, offering a Google Earth interactive map to help you decide where to get a culture infusion.
The best day to head out is December 18, when a special show, Night Lights on the Canal, will mix premier music and light-based art installations on the waterfront. Paradise Valley Community College also offers Drawing with Light, which allows you to indulge your right brain by creating a piece of art that will be photographed and projected onto a big screen.
Also, Tucson-based artist Mary Lucking promises to get fish to dance with Amur Serenade on the Marshall Way Bridge, on display until December 20.

University Offerings
Where: Oakland
Home to Carnegie Mellon University and recognizable for its grand buildings and broad avenues, Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood has been a hub for culture since the 1890s.
Revel in the Shakespearean quotations on Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s 1908 fountain, Giuseppe Moretti’s sculpture from 1900 of the balladeer behind “Oh! Susanna” and Henry Moore’s 1957 bronze work, Reclining Figure.
The area also borders Schenley Park, so you can mix a touch of nature in with your sculpture gazing. Highlights include the fiberglass Dippy (a life-sized dinosaur) in front of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Gary Hume’s implausible 2004 work, Snowmen.

Earth and Industry
Where: Begin at West Trade Street
Whether you want your art to evoke the tranquility of nature or the ambition of the Industrial Revolution, Charlotte’s 45-minute public art walking tour offers something for everyone.
A good early stop is Jerry Peart’s 1991 sculpture, The Garden, which uses painted aluminum to depict rising plants and flowers. Raymond Kaskey’s 1995 series of sculptures on Commerce, Industry, Transportation and the Future depicts the city’s economic triumphs in the form of gold mines, railways, mill workers and, for the future, a child holding the state’s official flower, the dogwood.
For a more abstract experience toward the end of your journey, check out Ned Kahn’s Wind Silos.

Eastern Dreams on the West Coast
Where: Chinatown/International District
Among the first U.S. cities to adopt 1973’s percent-for-art ordinance, Seattle features over 350 permanent and 2,600 portable works.  
We recommend the Chinatown/International District, which calls itself the only neighborhood in America where Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Vietnamese and Southeast Asians live and work side-by-side.
Sites here include Fernanda D’Agostino and Valerie Otani’s 1999 mixed-media installation, Bridge Between Cultures, and Meng Huang and Heather Presler’s 2002 painted fiberglass work, Untitled Dragons on Lampposts.

Los Angeles
Pop and Politics
Where: Hollywood and elsewhere
Ad-hoc street art is all over the City of Angels, but a good place to start is Hollywood, West Hollywood and Mid-City, where sidewalk anti-war stenciling mingles with portraits of stars like Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Springsteen and Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Wander over to the corner of Sunset and Vine for the stained glass work commemorating the filming of the town’s first full-length feature movie, The Squaw Man, in 1913. Not all the art is dedicated to the silver screen: social justice is represented, too. By Tower Records at Horn and Vine, you can find the No Glove…No Love AIDS mural.
Keep searching and you’ll come across depictions of an Aztec landscape, Buddha and even Monica Lewinsky.

Pioneering Lights
Where: Capitol Boulevard
In the 1860s, the section of the Boise River now crossed by Capitol Boulevard served as an isolated ferry crossing for prospectors and Oregon Trail pioneers. But by the 1930s, the construction of U.S. 30 and the institution of Depression-era federal relief programs reshaped the area.
You can trace that history, and the years that followed, along Boise’s Capitol Boulevard public art tour, which features a series of stories told on signs mounted on street lamps.
If you are really scrimping (even on gas money) or just avoiding the cold, Boise’s Web site offers video and audio virtual tours. So you can sit quietly at home, and pretend to walk

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