`Cities in Transition," the outdoor photography exhibit on display in Bushnell Park until Oct. 31, is a beau geste by United Technologies Corp., one that other corporate citizens would do well to emulate.
To celebrate 25 years of supporting the arts, the Hartford-based technology company created a public art project last year. Its first show in 2005 was work by three top painters on billboards displayed in New York City.
This year, UTC commissioned three of the world's leading photographers, Chuck Close, Mitch Epstein and Dayanita Singh, to photographically document their reactions to New York, Boston and Hartford, respectively. The photographs are being shown in Bushnell Park, New York's Madison Square Park and the Downtown Crossing T Station in Boston.
The work is uniformly splendid. Mr. Epstein's work is filled with wit and irony, and his composition of financial district buildings in Boston is a photograph we'll see again. Mr. Close did compelling portraits of New Yorkers. Ms. Singh shot Hartford. She took an interest in structures. Her photograph of the Capewell Building is wonderfully nuanced and detailed. She said it should hang in the lobby when the building is renovated for housing.
Some argue that the exhibit is detrimental to Bushnell Park. The photographs are suspended between poles which are anchored in the ground. People have to walk on the grass to see them.
The pictures certainly could have gone to Constitution Plaza or another venue, but Bushnell Park is the heart of the city. And while its upkeep is always a concern, the park is well-tended by a foundation and the city, and seems to recover from the countless games, concerts, races and other activities that are held there.
In creating the public art program aimed at cities, UTC makes a statement. Art, commerce and creativity are connected and have always come together in cities. Hartford has an unparalleled arts community for a city its size because of the generosity of the corporate "bishops" of yore. In recent years, some corporations have withdrawn from the city's artistic life. Let's hope UTC's example brings them back.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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