Public Art Commission
September 18, 2015
Commissioners: Merchant, Bussell, Newman, Friend, Lemhouse Seltzer (staff),
Garrington and Clark
Reaction to Gateway Project
The PAC discussed the negative emails sent to the Council about the selection of ‘Gather’ for the Gateway site as reported by Lemhouse. Three themes are repeated: the piece is contemporary, not historical, the artist is not from Ashland, and it costs too much.
The group agreed this reaction provides an opportunity for the PAC to develop educational information about public art in general and the Gateway selection and to present it to the City Council at a study session and to invite the Historic Commission. Seltzer and Lemhouse will convey the PAC request for a study session to the City Administrator.
The group developed a list of headers that they believed need to be addressed and included as educational. Some of the headers include:
Why Public Art?
Why at the Gateway site?
What is historic?
Why does it cost so much?
What is the skill set needed for a public art artists?
Why not local artists?
What is iconic?
Why deny Ashland residents exposure to art?
Why art can’t be designed by a committee.
What is the connection of the Gateway to downtown?
The group agreed to form a subcommittee to draft response to the headers. Subcommittee members include Newman, Bussell and Merchant. Each will begin draft of the topics and meet as a subcommittee on Friday, October 16. Due to anticipated absences by some PAC members, the subcommittee meeting is in lieu of the regular monthly meeting. Seltzer reminded the group that subcommittee meetings are open to the public and a subcommittee may recommend an action to the full commission but may not take formal action on its own.
Councilor Marsh sent an email to staff asking if the PAC would consider asking the artist to submit a different concept with a design similar to the piece she did for the TriMet station in Portland. The PAC discussed this request and reasoned that even if the artist were willing to submit a different concept, the piece would still be contemporary, the artist would still be from out of town, the piece would still cost $100,000 and some people will like it and others won’t. In addition, the code requires the selection panel to make a decision which they have done. Since this is the same situation that currently exists with ‘Gather’ the PAC did not move forward with the suggestion.
Seltzer reported that the public art story board (on-line guide to public art in Ashland) is in the works with assistance from the City’s GIS division and photos from the Chamber of Commerce.
Seltzer noted that the RFQ for the Theater Corridor project was scheduled for the Council’s October 20 meeting. The PAC suggested postponing that agenda item until after the PAC and City Council study session.
Minutes of the August 21 meeting were approved.
Meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m.