Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

PUBLIC ART - Art at historical town centre from Puebla-México

Mª Luisa Grau Tello

Resum


Public art presents important difficulties for its conservation. First of all because this kind of pieces are exposed to all sorts of deteriorating agents as result of its public condition and, on the second hand, because of the complexity in managing public art. In order to assure a correct conservation it is necessary to establish some criteria guarantying a better management. This is probably the main pending problem about public art.
Saragossa is no exception in this subject. We have a considerable number of art works in the public realm, but no established policy for their preservation. The competences with respect to their conservation and curatorship are not clearly arranged. This paper proposes two study cases: The Fountain of the Good Sheperd and Torrero’s Cemetery.
The Fountain of the Good Shepherd is an example of the difficults about the contentions inside the municipal authority for the “custody” of public art and the absence of a clear management. This sculpture was made by Dionisio Lasuén in 1885 for the main square of the municipal slaughterhouse planned in the last years of the 19th century. This building, one of the most importante examples of industrial architecture in Saragossa, was in use up to the 1970’s. Then, the fountain was moved to the city center to preserve it from the risk of demolition faced by the derelict slaughterhouse, which was eventually reused as a civic center.
However, the fountain suffered, in its new location, from a fatal act of vandalism, when a group of youngster climbed to the top in 2002 and the sculpture of the Good Shepherd fell down: as a result, one of the offenders lost an arm, and the sculpture broke into pieces. The local association of neighbours in the slaughterhouse’s district had been claiming for the removal and return of Good Shepherd, but the residents of the City Center wanted the sculpture to be restored in kept in its new site. In the outcome, different services of the City Council were also involved, with different criteria: those in charge of Cultural Affairs, Parks and Gardens, and Urbanism. Finally two different sculptors were hired to deal with the problem: Alberto Gómez Ascaso restored the sculpture of Good Shepherd but this was kept indoors at the former slaughterhouse, while a replica was commissioned to Frank Norton to stand on top of a new identical fountain in the middle of the square.
Our second example is Torrero’s Cemetery, the most important graveyard in Saragossa. There are works of significant sculptors as Dionisio Lasuén, José Bueno, Buzzi and Gussoni or Enrique Clarasó. Nevertheless, the main part of these pieces present a bad state of preservation since they have fallen into oblivion, receiving no public care. We try to present this situation and ask for the recuperation of this magnificent place.

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