Jerks continue to screw up public art in Atlanta

USA Today reports that thieves have stolen almost half of the bronze plaques identifying public art works installed for the 1996 Olympics


  • Folk art park at Ralph McGill Boulevard and Courtland Street was installed for the Olympics in 1996

Another day, another installment of “This is why we can’t have nice things, Atlanta.” We can’t have beloved popsicle murals. We can barely keep art on the Beltline without some punks burning it down. And, according to USA Today, we can’t have bronze plaques identifying our public art:

In 1996, Atlanta installed 18 pieces of public artwork as part of preparations for the Summer Olympics. Since then, almost half of the bronze plaques identifying that artwork have gone missing, says Robert Witherspoon, the project supervisor for the city’s public art program.

Atlanta has subsequently invested in stainless steel plaques for $500 each to replace some of the more expensive bronze and aluminum plaques that were stolen. Witherspoon says the remaining price tag for what needs to be fixed in the city’s total public-arts collection is more than $600,000 — money which he says is hard to come by these days.

Atlanta is one of the many cities in an era of tight budgets having trouble affording the routine restoration and maintenance for public-art projects as well as occasional instances of vandalism and theft.

According to the article, there are other cities that have similar problems trying to keep nice stuff around and nobody has the budget to take care of it. Except for Portland, which has developed an iPhone app so that people can check-in to public art and say, uh, “I was here and noticed the plaque was missing.” Problem solved. Perhaps this is part of that city’s innovative unemployment program?