Because we all benefit when artists are able to pursue their passions.

Frisco’s artist-in-residence enjoys ranch life

John F. Rhodes/Staff Photographer
Scott Trent, Frisco's artist-in-residence, displays his metal sculptures in a city-owned ranch house he occupies.
In return for low rent, he helps the city with its public art program.

Artist Scott Trent lives in a ranch house on 100 acres with dogs Lucy, Lily and Pippin. His frequent visitors range from frogs to possums, and he uses a horse barn as a studio.
The city of Frisco owns the ranch and plans to turn it into a park. But for now, Trent lives there as the city’s first artist-in-residence.
“I can’t imagine anywhere better,” Trent said. “The view is the best part of it, and, for me, the horse barn.”
Trent’s chosen media is metal, so the ranch setup is ideal. He welds in the barn, and a large, open room in the 1980s-style house serves as a gallery.
Trent, 49, gets a deal on the rent, $500 a month, in exchange for helping the city with its public art program, and just began his second year at the house.
The city will eventually bulldoze the home to create the park but needs someone to watch the property and prevent vandalism until it begins the project.
“He pays us enough a month to basically cover the expenses of having electricity on out there,” said Richard Oldham, Frisco’s public art manager. “In turn, he helps me select and recommend artists for the committee” and donates one piece of art to the city each year.
Frisco started its public art program in 2002. Like that of several other area cities, it includes a “Percent for Art” program.
“It takes a small percentage, 1 to 2 percent, of all capital improvement projects and dedicates that 1 to 2 percent toward art for the project,” Oldham said. “It’s a beautiful way to do things, especially in a town that’s growing like Frisco.”
The public art board, made up of volunteers, must approve a project for the program. After approval, a group of citizens is chosen as the Artist Selection Committee.
While the committee may be told that the art should be free-standing or follow a theme such as Frisco’s history, it’s up to the members to select artists the board should consider.
Trent said the focus is on engaging the public with the art, though not everyone may appreciate the artworks selected.
“You make a decision, and people are going to have an opinion on it,” he said.
Trent works with Oldham on which artists to recommend to the committee.
“If it’s a small project, say under $20,000, we don’t throw a very large net,” Oldham said. “A large percentage of the artists in our group are Texas artists … but we don’t want to restrict it to just Texas art.”
While Trent has always enjoyed art, he began to pursue it as a career in 2001.
Trent chose metal sculpting because it’s “heavy, dangerous, permanent.”
He uses found metal — scrap or old metal — in his pieces; unlike many artists, he doesn’t mind people touching it.
“I encourage people to touch it,” Trent said.
Trent’s style is often abstract, ranging from free-form figures such as Ballerina, which he donated to the city last year, to stacks of geometric shapes balancing on one another.
“It’s the way you think,” Trent said of his vocation. “It’s who you are.”

Published 10 August 2011 10:37 PM