There is a sculpture park next to the Bengaluru Town Hall. For the last three years, on the first Sunday of every month this park has been coming alive with art activities. Named ‘Art Park’, this public activity centre is the brain child of the senior artist S.G.Vasudev. There is only one question that is asked to the art loving public of Bengaluru by the organisers of the ‘Art Park’: Are you really interested in art and its patronage? If the answer is yes, then this is the place to start not only to look at works of art that are exhibited in an unconventional space but also to see artists working ‘live’. And if you have some money to spare, you could buy the works of any artist who is working there on the given day for Rs.1000/-.
When Art Park started three years back the price for an on the spot work was just Rs.500/- “We too had to increase it to Rs.1000/- with the change in the general economy,” says Jayakumar, artist and art teacher who has been involved with the Art Park project since its inception. When you hear the word work of art, please do not get excited; the works of art that are sold for Rs.1000/- are done on paper given by the organizers. The medium could be water colour, drawing, ink on paper or acrylic. If you want to see the works of the same artists done in other mediums the Art Park also facilitates it. The organisers let the artists to display their larger works near their tables. If someone is keen they could negotiate with the artists and make deals. Art Park in turn gets one of the paper works as a ‘gift’. “Now we have nearly three thousand works and we would like to bring out a volume of these works,” says Vasudev.
If the spectacular art happenings like Biennales claim that they create avenues for the artists to do ‘live’ works for around three months so that the visitors could see artists working in real time, then we should tell them that there nothing so ‘novel’ about it. Art Park in Bengaluru has been doing it for the last three years and the citizens hold this closer to their heart. “Bengaluru is a place where art is always happening though there are not enough big time patrons in the city,” says Suresh Jayaram, art critic and director of the 1 Shanti Road, an experimental art space. “But the only problem is that the mainstream artists who have been a part of it initially are now sceptical about the way it is going as it has become a platform for the art teachers who do not have any other avenues to show their works and skills,” one of the Bengaluru artists who wants to remain anonymous says. Criticism notwithstanding, many of the academically trained young artists come forward each year to shoulder the organisational responsibilities. Currently Pradeep Kumar from Davengare, Shivananda Basavanthappa, Aishwaryan Kumaran, Naveen and so on do the networking for the Art Park activities.
Though cities in India boast of their own kinds of local art markets Art Park is an imitable example. Goa has a monthly art ‘flea’ market where artists bring their works to find suitable buyers. In Mumbai, near Jehangir, the Pavement Galleries is a throughout the year alternative art market. But Art Park is something special because it could be used for creating awareness of art locally as any park in any locality could be turned into an art market/exhibition avenue provided the organisers have right intentions and they get administrative support from the local administration. Recently, Manoj Bharati Gupta, a Delhi based photography artist had turned a park near his home an exhibition avenue for his large scale photography works. In South Goa I had seen artists like Sripad Naik displaying their works at the local temple premises with the full support and admiration of the local communities. Hence, Art Park is an interesting idea that could find franchise activities elsewhere in India. The Director General of the NGMA, Adwaita Gadanaik, in one of the interviews, had expressed his wish to turn the NGMA lawn into a welcoming park for the public. Setting up a monthly Art Park in the NGMA premises would be a great way to open the lawn for the public to come in. The Garhi Studios lawn as well as the Rabindra Bhavan lawns could be used for creating similar Art Parks in Delhi.