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Management of Public Art Commissions: Make Your Institution Stand out

We cannot tell a lie: WISSEN founder Natasha is an art historian by training and has a research specialty in public art and memorials. If your institution wants to make a visual statement that sets you apart, consider a public art installation. A commission of an original work of art defines your institution and makes it unique. Included is research related to the project and potential artists, writing a call for entries that is guided by your vision and wishes, guidance throughout selection process, budget management, project management, and assistance with installation

Figurative Bronze in Biddeford, Maine: Jane DeDecker

The photograph above is by sculptor Jane DeDecker and is dedicated to the female mill workers who worked in the cotton mills in Biddeford, Maine. Nathan Szanton, President of the Szanton Company, a real estate development firm based in Portland, Maine, wanted to pay tribute to the former occupants of the building now known as “The Lofts at Saco Falls.” He wished for a representational work of art that would capture the spirit of the women who often had to go to work with their children in tow. Hats off to Szanton to paying tribute to history, investing in his property, and serving the community.

Miotto Mosaics, After Marsden Hartley I and II, 2019, mosaic, Lewiston, Maine

WISSEN’s work with The Szanton Company started with this work of public art in Lewiston, Maine. When Nathan Szanton realized that an empty lot on a busy street in Lewiston once housed the studio of renowned American artist Marsden Hartley, he decided to commission a work of art to commemorate the artist. WISSEN interviewed ten different mosaic artists, and ended up with the team Miotto Mosaics and Nancy Blum. Steve Miotto had already translated Nancy’s paintings into mosaic form in the NYC subway stations.

This time, he was so intrigued by translating Hartley’s paintings that he chose to do something fairly radical: take details of Hartley’s paintings and interpret them in mosaic form. The resulting abstractions are gorgeous and add a unique character to Lewiston’s downtown. Here, too, Szanton’s dedication to art, culture, and community shines through — glistens in the sun, I would say, just like the mosaics.