Cornell Honors Art In Public Places Volunteers, Creators & County Employees Who Contribute To Its Success

Legislator Harriet Cornell is thanking and applauding the many volunteers, creators and county employees who have contributed to the success of the Rockland County Art In Public Places program.

“Art is many things – and it means different things to different people, as they experience it,” Legislator Cornell said. “Rockland’s Art in Public Places has allowed people to experience art in their daily lives with public displays of sculpture, photography, paintings, and more. It provokes a new way of viewing the world and invites discourse.”

 “Pablo Picasso once said, ‘The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls,’” Legislator Cornell said. “Our County now has art all over Rockland, connected with government property – and our souls have benefited.”

In 1986, the Rockland County Legislature passed a landmark new law sponsored by Legislators Cornell and Bruce Levine that became known as the Percent for Arts Law. The legislation requires that 1 percent of the first $15 million of eligible County public works projects be allocated for art in public places.

It was the first such law in the state outside of New York City, and one of the first in the nation. One unique aspect was that from the start, the law recognized that some of the money set aside should also be available for maintenance and restoration when needed.

Since the passage of the law, artworks have been installed at more than two dozen government-owned sites around the county. Many of the artworks serve a functional purpose such as the beautifully-wrought gate at Kakiat Park or the luminous stained-glass windows in the Court House Annex. Others call attention to Rockland’s history, such as the carved brick columns and path made of Haverstraw brick at Haverstraw Bay County Park – a tribute to the brick industry of an earlier time – and the recently dedicated Waves of Change which stands in front of the County Office Building reminding the onlooker of the many changes which have occurred in Rockland since its agricultural past.

As per the requirements of the local law, a committee of 11 knowledgeable volunteers from the community – artists, art historians, architects – runs the AIPP program and oversees the commission, selection and placement of artworks.

Projects include the commissioning of new works, and the preservation and restoration of existing public artwork, such as that in Dutch Garden built as a WPA project in the 1930s. The Committee seeks art that will open minds to new possibilities, for the public to experience in their daily life. The County Legislature and Executive approve final selections and siting. The program is administered by the Rockland Center for the Arts.

County Press Release