PUBLIC ARTS COMMISSION / HISTORIC COMMISSION
MARKING ASHLAND PLACES COMMITTEE MEETING
April 9, 2019
|PAC Commissioners Present:
HC Commissioners Present:
Piper Von Chamier
Contributing guest author:
||Fotini Kaufman, Associate Planner
- CALL TO ORDER: 9:00 AM, Lithia Room, 51 Winburn Way
Beverly Hovenkamp volunteered to take minutes in future meetings.
APPROVAL OF PARKS AND RECREATION (APRC)
> Andy and Dale led the presentation on the MAP project at the APRC meeting on March 25th, and received unanimous approval of the Commission for the location of the HUB sculpture and plaque in Railroad Park, as the initial phase of the MAP project. In addition, a request was made for the APRC to name a representative to serve on the independent Artist Selection Panel as required by an RFP or RFQ.
OPTIONS FOR SECURING A VENDOR TO DESIGN AND MANUFACTURE THE 5 PLAQUES
> The committee discussed two options for the selection of an artist to design and produce the 5 plaques or medallions. Dale’s draft drawing of Medallion Schematics would be included in any committee draft of a Requests for Proposal (RFP) or a Requests for Qualification (RFQ).
- OPTION A
> The Ashland Municipal Code, in its Policy for Public Art, (AMC 2.29.100) allows for the direct commission of public art to a single vendor. The committee discussed the difficulty of finding a contractor that has both the skills to provide a design relief for the plaques and that also operates its own foundry. Masterwork Plaques in New York City is one such company that has experience in both the design and manufacturing of plaques, and has demonstrated an excellent body of work as shown on their website. Option A would involve MAP directly engaging with Masterwork studio as the contractor for completing this initial phase of the MAP project. This could save approximately $3000, which is the estimated cost of sending out an RFQ, and reviewing and selecting three proposals from multiple artists’ submissions. The suggestion was made to use the savings to pay for the Hub sculpture.
Two themes emerged:
First, the hub sculpture would be a better fit for an RFQ than the plaques for inviting local artists to present their qualifications and ideas. The Hub sculpture is less restricted in their designs than is the case with historical plaques/medallions that must contain some text. In addition, the Hub sculpture lends itself to providing local artists more creative license and is more clearly within the category of public art. Second, there is a significant advantage to contracting with a vendor like Masterwork which specializes in the design and manufacture of informational plaques. The value added in contracting with a vendor that is highly reputable and and experienced in historical and artistic plaques is significant.
- OPTION B
Prepare an RFP in which the joint committee would provide the design for the plaques/medallions. The committee would use Dale’s sketch of Medallion Schematics or contract with a local graphic artist, or both, to develop an RFP proposal for local and regional foundries.
In the discussion of these 2 options, other considerations and suggestions were raised which might be revisited in the next meeting. These are highlighted below:
Insofar as the plaques are intended to provide information, the question was raised if there would be any benefit to reframing the production of the plaques as signage rather than art? There was some discussion that this approach might give the committee more latitude in exercising Option A to engage a single contractor.
The committee revisited the discussion of how to involve local artists in the MAP project.
Second, the committee would benefit from Masterwork’s history in both the design, fabrication, and installation of plaques since they have relevant experience on such important issues as: 1) how the surface of outdoor plaques would wear over time, 2) how to manufacture a weather resistant surface to guard against people slipping while walking on plaques embedded in the sidewalk, and the important factors that might affect the installation of the plaques in the sidewalks. Since a contract with Masterwork would represent the first phase of the MAP project, their work could serve as a prototype for producing other plaques in other historical districts in the future, which might allow more involvement by local designers, fabricators, and foundries.
THE COMMITTEE DECIDED BY CONSENSUS TO PURSUE OPTION A and contract directly with Masterwork studio.
The Committee revisited a discussion about the utility of using QR codes in the plaques to give the viewer a fast connection to the proposed website containing more in depth historical narratives. There was concern that such codes are not as useful in today’s digital technology and conversations with the Masterwork studio confirmed that they are disinclined to use QR codes. The other problem is that the QR codes would most certainly have a negative impact on the overall design and artistic character of the plaques.
An alternative approach would be to have a reference to a URL that is connected to the plaque in a way that is more discreet and does not interfere with the design. A suggestion was made to do more research on whether “bitly.com” might be a better option since it provides a shortened version of the URL that would offer a simpler and more streamlined access to the website for the viewer.
Another suggestion for facilitating an easier access to historical narrative is to work with the city’s web design staff to include a menu item that is dedicated solely to the History of Ashland. It would have the additional benefit of not requiring a separate dedicated website for MAP, and would work with the city’s existing website.
FUNDING OF THE PRODUCTION AND INSTALLATION OF THE PLAQUES.
The financial resources that are currently available in the city budget to carry out this first phase of the MAP project are as follows:
1) There is $22,000 set aside in the budget for Beautification. A portion of these funds could be used by MAP.
2) There is about $12,000 available for public art in the PAC. These funds come from the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) which is allocated for tourist related city projects. PAC receives 3 percent of TOT funds, which represents their sole source of funding.
3) The Historic Commission does not have any current funding from the city. As the MAP project goes forward, the AHC will have to make a budget request to share responsibility with PAC for future MAP work.
The PAC has agreed to provide its TOT funds of $12,000 to support the first phase of the MAP project which includes the design, production, and installation of 5 plaques in the historic Railroad District. A projected budget outlining the costs of this first phase has not yet been formulated.
The funding to pay for the Hub sculpture is still under discussion. However, the suggestion was made that the PAC would pay for the sculpture, while the PAC and AHC would split the costs of the spokes for the Hub.
Andy will talk with the city attorney to make certain that the MAP has the rightful authority to commission a single vendor to provide the 5 plaques.
Andy will talk to Jennifer at Masterwork to ask for an outline of the process they would undertake if they were to receive the commission. (Please refer to Fotini Kaufman’s email of April 11 in which she forwards Jennifer’s written reply to Andy describing this process.)
Stanley will research the bitly.com website to determine if it might provide better access to the website containing the relevant historical narratives about the locations of the five plaques in the Railroad District.
Dale will consult with the city public works department about installation issues and costs related to the plaque. He will also get information from local contractors about replacing deteriorating sidewalks with new concrete to facilitate a cleaner installation of the plaques.
Meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m.
Next Meeting: Tuesday, April 23rd at 9:00am
8:00 AM The committee will tour the locations of the 5 plaques and the Hub sculpture. The group will gather at the Railroad Park Gazebo near the bottom of 7th St.
After the tour is concluded the committee will reconvene in the Lithia Room at 51 Winburn Way for its regular meeting.