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Sarasota Thursday, May. 20, 2010 5 years ago

Committee polices 'public art'

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by: Robin Roy City Editor

Still displeased about having their opinions on Unconditional Surrender ignored, members of the city’s Public Art Committee are miffed about another sculpture soon to go on display in Sarasota.

The new Sarasota police headquarters has been approved to receive a piece of steel from the World Trade Center. The piece will be placed at the entrance as public art.

Committee members have two problems with the piece. First, they were not consulted about it, and second, they don’t want it referred to as “public art.”

“I think it’s important for the public-art process to put (city) staff on notice that a World Trade Center artifact is not public art,” said committee member Virginia Hoffman, who wanted the city to stop using the term “public art” when referring to the piece of steel. “It’s important to get this clarity.”

Hoffman said taking an artifact, no matter what it is, and placing it somewhere is not creating a work of art.

“It’s a monument,” she said. “The next thing you know some developer is going to take a 1965 Ford pickup and paint it purple and say, ‘This is my public art.’”

Most developments in the city are required to place a work of public art in full view on the property’s exterior.

Former Police Chief Peter Abbott was not involved in the selection of the World Trade Center piece, but said he thought it would be a nice touch.

Sgt. Mick McHale, Police Benevolent Association president, said there should not be a dispute over the piece.

“It should be viewed as something we embrace,” he said. “The fact that we can possess a piece of
American history, we should cherish it. We should be pround to possess it.”

Hoffman said she had no plans to cause a dispute.

“Of course, I would rather have a nice piece of public art,” she said. “But if that’s what they want, that’s fine, too.”

Contact Robin Roy at rroy@yourobserver.com.

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