Essential Travel Experience #57 – Linger at Public Art

       Most people expect to see great art at a museum. However, wonderful art is available on the streets of cities and towns, in plain view, with no crowds (usually). Excellent and memorable examples of public art can be found all over the world.

     Often, a tourist must know that the particular piece is there, because it may not be in an especially prominent place, but just as often, this art is stumbled upon, as you enter a square or intersection. Be aware when you are traveling and you might be pleasantly surprised.

      Below are some representative samples of public art which we have encountered in our travels.

     I will start again in Washington, DC, since one of my favorite pieces, “The Awakening,” is found in the Tidal Basin, near the Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial. The Awakening portrays a giant man emerging from underground — only his head, hands, a knee, and feet are visible.

The Awakening

   In Savannah, along the waterfront, there is a statue known as “Waving Girl.” It represents a real person, Florence Martus, who would wave at passing boats with her handkerchief.

Waving Girl

 Some art, like Waving Girl, above, depict real people, but others are fabricated. Look at the “Illuminated Crowd” in Montreal

Illuminated Crowd

 and “A-Maze-ing Smiles,” in Vancouver.

A-Maze-ing Smiles

The “Love” Sculpture in Philadelphia has even been used on a US stamp.

Love sculpture

On Waikiki Beach, in Honolulu, there is a statue to Duke Kahanamoku which I would consider Public Art. Like Waving Girl above, this depicts a real person.

Duke Kahanamoku

In Puerto Vallarta, there are many sculptures along the Malecon, a beachside walkway or boardwalk, in the center of town. Here are a couple — the famous Seahorse, symbol of the city,

Seahorse Sculpture

and this one

Malecon Sculpture

 In Brussels, the symbol of the city is Manneken Pis, a young boy urinating (strange symbol!). The city actually dresses him at certain holidays and there is an entire museum devoted to the sculpture and his outfits.

Manneken Pis

   Juneau, Alaska, is the home of “Windfall Fisherman,” a sculpture of a grizzly bear feasting on salmon.

Windfall Fisherman

In Italy, behind the Pantheon, the famous sculptor Bernini created an Elephant sculpture which is topped with an obelisk.

Bernini's Elephant

These are just a few examples of Public Art. Be on the look-out when traveling, and be pleasantly surprised and impressed..

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