From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 38 - 5/18/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Millennium Project Stirs Discussion
Artist Don Kennell fields questions at public meeting
by Jennifer Binning

'Last Thursday, approximately 20 people showed up at the Pinedale Library to meet the Millennium Project Artist in Residence Don Kennell, and ask him questions about just what kind of project he has planned.

The short answer: nothing has been planned yet. Mr. Kennell handed out questionnaires to the crowd, as well as a description of his residency in an effort to further educate attendees about why he was in town.

Pinedale Fine Arts Council Board Member David Klarén opened the meeting by explaining how Pinedale became the recipient of such a tremendous honor. Pinedale is one of only 56 communities in the United States that have been awarded a millennium project by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Previously, the PFAC was only able to offer very short residencies in the school system, but with the help of the grant, High School students are being exposed to artistic methods they would not ordinarily have a chance to experience until college. For the past several weeks, Mr. Kennell has been teaching the students how to work within a group to plan a project, and then to execute the plan and create it. The students have even built a foundry to cast metal, which may be used in the fabrication of the Town's project.

Mr. Klarén said that the questionnaires will be available at the library, and he asked people to please take a few minutes to fill them out. Next week, the answers will be compiled and presented to the town at another public meeting, where attendees will be asked to help develop some sketches of what they would like to see for the project. The open forum idea will continue throughout the process, and everyone in encouraged to throw their ideas into the ring.

"These meetings and discussions are doorways to creative solutions," said Mr. Kennell, who has considerable experience in collaborative public art, adding, "there is a lot of genius out there."

When the floor was opened up to the audience's questions, comments once again centered on the Kennell's car. Bob Shaffer and Scott Ramsey of Pinedale both objected to the car, at which point Lisa Adler (Mr. Kennell's wife) told the group the car was hers, and tried to put to rest the idea that her husband would re-create the car in the middle of the Town Park.

Mr. Ramsey asked if the project was going to proceed, regardless of his objections. He was told that the project was a go, but his input was valued, and he was asked what he had in mind. Mr. Ramsey said he would not object to a bronze wildlife sculpture like they have in Dubois, an idea supported by Mr. Shaffer as well.

Mr. Klarén had heard these suggestions before, and had done some research into a bronze. He told the audience that a life-sized bronze would more than likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars just to have the work done by the foundry. That would not include all of the work involved in finishing the piece and creating it in the first place.

Mr. Shaffer added, "where the project was placed should dictate what it is going to be," an idea that was supported by Mr. Kennell and the rest of those assembled.

After viewing slides of other projects that Mr. Kennell had been involved in, Mr. Ramsey said "what you call art I don't consider art," at which point another Pinedale resident Dave Hohl stated "don't complain about what you don't want, what do you want?"

Several in the audience commented about Mr. Kennell's previous public projects, and how they combined the past, present and sometimes future of the area in unique ways not always seen at first glance.

One project that generated a lot of discussion was done at the West Side train station in Jersey City, New Jersey. Because the station served several schools and a college, Mr. Kennell created two huge books with letters spilling out of them. The letters seem at first to be random, but a closer look reveals a giant W and S, which stand for the West Side station where they are located. Another set of letters, an O and a K, are stacked to create an "OK bench." The letters and books are used by the local children to climb on, and that is just fine with Mr. Kennell, who said he loves to create art which is interactive.

The Fine Arts Council hopes that people will pick up the questionnaires around town and return them to the library so they may be compiled for the next public meeting which is expected to be held sometime next week. The Council and Mr. Kennell hope that lots of people will turn up at the next meetings, as it is just as important to know what people don't want, as it is to know what they do.

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