Mountain View Voice

News - May 24, 2013

'One of the silliest things we've ever done'

Council opposes public art for parks and trails

by Daniel DeBolt

Several City Council members said they were not fans of placing art along city's trails and in parks before voting against making it a standard practice on Tuesday.

The city commissions art work for public works projects valued over $1 million, allocating 1 percent of the project's cost to art. The city's visual arts committee proposed to include parks and future extensions of the city's trails in that policy after noticing that art was part of the new pedestrian overpass on Highway 85 to Heatherstone Way.

City staff and the contractor came up with the designs without input from the committee, which advises the city on public art projects.

Mike Kasperzak, Chris Clark and John McAlister were the only supporters of the VAC's proposal, which was defeated in a 4-3 vote.

"I think the natural environment is art in itself," said council member Margaret Abe-Koga. "I'm happy to leave off parks and trails."

Expressing a similar view, council member Jac Siegel criticized the art piece the city commissioned for the western entrance to Shoreline Park at the north end of San Antonio Road.

"We're in the middle of a bird wildlife sanctuary and we put up a bunch of cast-iron birds," Siegel said. "That was one of the silliest things we ever did."

Council member Mike Kapserzak disagreed.

"You go the great parks of the world and there are major displays of art," Kasperzak said. "You don't plop down a big statue in Yellowstone Park next to Old Faithful, but a piece of art wouldn't be entirely inappropriate in Cuesta Park or Rengstorff Park" or embellishing a piece of cement in a park or on a trail bridge.

"I think you are really limiting the possibility of what artistic expression can be in a public project," he said.

The extension of the policy would not have applied to neighborhood parks that cost less than $1 million. To member Ronit Bryant, such parks don't need commissioned art anyway, saying the city's new Mariposa park at the west end of Dana Street "is delightful" despite being "not embellished with art. There's lots of little plaques and little additions that make it look thought-through and loved and beautiful." All the city needed was "a really good team saying, 'How can we make this place delightful?'"

To other members, it seemed that the visual arts committee could help with such things.

"Who is going to define art?" said council member John McAlister. "A gateway to a park, that could be art. We should leave that interpretation to our committee. How does it hurt our city to have art?"

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields