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Council approves 3 new public art sites

SOLANA BEACH — Temporary public art will be coming to three new locations, which council members approved at the July 12 meeting, but what the pieces will look like remains to be seen.

From a list of 25 sites recommended by the Public Arts Commission, City Council in June 2008 selected five “with the intent to really start slow, manage the program, gauge the success before potentially expanding,” Dan King, assistant city manager, said.

Although council members like this sculpture by Amber Irwin, the Public Arts Commission will go back to the drawing board to find pieces for three newly added public art locations after some of the other proposed pieces were met with limited enthusiasm.
Courtesy photo rendering

Since then two spots have been claimed for permanent art. “Yoga Tree” was so popular the city purchased the piece in 2013 for $8,000 so it could remain indefinitely at the corner of Highland Drive and Sun Valley Road.

Additionally, the city granted a request from the Santa Fe Hills Homeowners Association to install an identifying sign in the median on Santa Helena Drive adjacent to Wells Fargo Bank.

With only three remaining temporary locations — the median on Lomas Santa Fe Drive across from Chase Bank; Cliff Street Bridge on North Cedros Avenue; and the San Andreas/Las Banderas intersection — the arts committee asked if more sites could be added, especially given the success of the program.

Council members unanimously approved $3,000 to add concrete pads to accommodate new artwork in the pocket park on North Granados Avenue and El Viento Street; at the Tide Park beach access entrance on Pacific Avenue and Solana Vista Drive; and on the southwest corner of San Rodolfo Drive where it intersects with the driveway into the American Assets shopping center.

Because pieces that will be placed in those locations will be temporary, council approval is not required. However, the Public Arts Commission (PAC) thought it might be helpful to pair the new sites with proposed artwork.

While unnecessary, King said it was a good approach because the temporary public art program “has been a little neglected and pieces remained at the locations longer than” the anticipated 12 to 18 months.

“The current PAC made it one of their goals to revive the program and do a call to artists to get an inventory of available pieces so the program can get back to its intended purpose of rotating different pieces in,” King said.

Thirteen artists submitted sculptures in response. PAC members worked with Ginger Marshall and Judy Hegenauer, who make up the council subcommittee assigned to work with the commission, to narrow the list.

“This is the best of what we got,” Marshall said of the three finalists.

Mayor Mike Nichols was less than enthusiastic about the piece assigned to the pocket park on North Granados, which is about eight houses away from his.

“Art is very subjective,” he said. “Some people will probably love that. Some people (will) probably think, ‘Oh my gosh.’”

He said he envisioned people knocking on his door asking, “What the heck?”

“This wasn’t their number one pick for this location,” King said.

Marshall said to her it looked “like a piece leftover from 9/11.”

Hegenauer said many of the submitted pieces weren’t very colorful, so they blended with the area and would have been hard to see.

“We didn’t have very many that rose to that level of both contrast with the background and good looks,” she said, adding that a cap on how much the city will spend for artwork also makes the process difficult.

“Those two factors are going to limit your choices, so I don’t see that we’re going to go to a much higher level of art unless we change those parameters,” she said.

“Makes sense,” Nichols said. “You get what you pay for.”

Councilwoman Jewel Edson didn’t completely agree.

“I do think that there are young artists that are starving and new that really are very talented that want to get their pieces out there and shown,” she said. “Sometimes you actually do luck into some pretty cool stuff.”

The new artwork will not go back to City Council before being installed in the new locations, but will go through the PAC, Marshall and Hegenauer for approval, King said.

Going forward, Councilman Dave Zito said he would like to see new locations added east of Interstate 5.