Annoyed and frustrated with its perceived lack of control over future downtown art projects, the Public Art Committee held a special meeting Dec. 7 to discuss its concerns.
Longtime art committee board member George Haborak, who requested the meeting, told the committee he believes the committee should not have approved projects, such as the Season of Sculpture’s Intersections project and a future interactive sculpture art project.
“I’m against both those projects, because I believe our public art policy statement says the committee is committed to the enrichment of the community through private and public acquisition of public art,” he said.
Haborak said approving two projects that don’t involve the acquisition of public art goes against the committee’s mission statement.
“It was always our committee’s mission and goal to acquire works of art for the city and the betterment of the community,” Haborak said. “Although these other projects are great, all we’re doing is sponsoring art exhibitions, and that’s why I voted against them.”
Art Committee Chairman Leonardo Lunardi and member Andrew Maass disagreed with Haborak.
“We are also given the responsibility ‘to separate and display’ public art purchased by expenditures of the public art fund,” Maass said.
Haborak, though, said he felt the committee was starting to focus more on projects that promote businesses and tourism instead of focusing on acquisitions of public art.
Board member Trulee Jameson told Haborak she was glad he brought the issue up, and the board agreed to further discuss the issue and hold a joint workshop with the Sarasota City Commission to discuss its concerns.
Jameson also brought up what she perceives as a committee that’s diminishing its control.
Senior planner Dr. Clifford aSmith said the committee can “redefine its policy so it’s more flexible but still has an emphasis on permanent public-art acquisitions.”
“I think we should also have the ability to publicly disapprove of objects on city property labeled as art that don’t measure up aesthetically to our standards,” Jameson said.
Comments made by Jameson and Haborak represent a growing discontent that the art committee has with its control and/or the amount of approval it has over certain projects.
In November, Jameson expressed concern that her board has no control over a concept being shaped for a $55,000 interactive public-art project the committee approved in August.
At its Nov. 9 quarterly meeting, Jameson said that although the board already approved an interactive project for nine bronze sculptures to be placed along Main Street, she wants the committee to approve the concept that goes with the sculptures.
Smith, however, has said that although the committee will be updated on the future of the project, it only has control over the sculptures themselves, which the committee already approved.
Jameson, meanwhile, is frustrated that the committee approved a project when the committee doesn’t know what the sculptures are going to be.
“My concern is we are stuck no matter what fabulous concept and multiple layer is presented for this project,” Jameson said in November. “We are stuck with static bronze sculptures hidden somewhere on Main Street.”