Editorial: UTSA should continue to collect public art

Across the nation, one percent of construction costs are set aside for public art. Many cities and states in the U.S., including San Antonio, have a percent allocated for art programs.
Section 35-650 of San Antonio’s Unified Development Code, Article VI, Division 5 states that “city capital improvement projects for infrastructure… shall include an amount equal of up to one percent of the total capital improvement program appropriation to be used for public art projects.”
According to Division 5, the public art projects incorporate artist services into the designs of public locations and improve the aesthetic value of San Antonio.
This policy is one to emulate. Public art improves a city’s environment and can enhance a university’s environment as well.
The 12 public art pieces throughout the UTSA Main and Downtown campuses are indicators of UTSA’s interest in public art. But, the university seems to have shifted from its desire to collect public art installation pieces to collect gallery art that can be hung within university buildings.
While the collecting of private art pieces is still an important practice, UTSA should continue to give to public installation as the university grows.
Currently, UTSA has over 400 pieces in its collection. This undoubtedly brings many benefits not only to the university but also to the city.
Many pieces in the collection consist of the work of local artists purchased from local galleries; this patronage in turn helps to keep the galleries open.
But not all of the pieces are easily-accessible. Many hang in administrative conference rooms and offices, which means that many students are unable to appreciate the entire collection.
Artists who work within the public art realm keep the individual space in mind when creating each piece. This makes each piece unique to the university. In effect public art adds character to the university grounds in a way that collected gallery art cannot.