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s I write this column on March 10, I’m listening in the council chambers to more than 50 speakers testify about why the city council should—or should not—approve a contract with world-class artist Jeff Koons for a sculpture that would be placed outside the new downtown sports arena. The piece, part of Koons’ “Coloring Book #4” series, carries an $8 million price tag. The announcement of Koons’ selection in February set off a fierce debate about the colorful metal piece that will sit in the plaza outside the city’s new arena, now under construction. While the artist’s concept was to create a simple, colorful, playful piece based on Piglet from A.A. Milne’s tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, the story behind it is far from simple. Objections from the public were based on the piece’s high cost; the choice of New York-based Koons rather than a local artist; the piece itself; and the process by which it was selected. Sacramento’s public-art selection process is complex and often

misunderstood. SMAC commissioners Little attention is approve all public art, usually paid to it with art spending over except in cases of a $100,000 requiring city controversy. council approval. The fiercest There are three opposition to this ways in which public piece came from art can be selected in members of the local Sacramento: through arts community open competition, who dislike this limited competition and much cash going direct selection. Direct to an artist outside selection is rarely used our region, and and only under very who feel cheated specific circumstances. by the selection Open calls for process. This competition limited to viewpoint is certainly specific geographic areas understandable. are most common. And the most loyal The panel assembled support was from to select the arena plaza Sacramento’s artwork was impressive corporate class, and included a fine group which is no surprise, of nine arts-oriented given the players professionals and the involved in the SMAC chair. At its donation. first meeting, the panel I am honored decided that the plaza that I have been needed a substantial appointed a member iconic sculpture. After of Sacramento this meeting, the Above: The $80,000 sculpture designed by East Sac artist Metropolitan Arts SMAC director was Marc Foster for McKinley Village housing project. Below: The $8 million sculpture by Jeff Koons for downtown arena. Commission (SMAC) given the idea by a for the past three Kings representative to which has partnered with the city on years and chair of the commission’s purchase the Koons for $8 million; $4 the arena. Art in Public Places committee million of the cost would come from To select each public art project, for the past two. The city’s public private donations. She then presented the SMAC director assembles a art program is based upon a 1977 the proposal to the panel, which panel of people from a variety of ordinance that requires 2 percent vetted the idea over the course of two backgrounds, including community of the cost of construction of capital public meetings. members, artists, collectors and improvement projects to be spent on The panel voted to approve SMAC commissioners. They meet public art. In this case, the public the project without considering numerous times and develop a plan dollar portion of the cost is $2.75 other proposals because of unique for the type of art appropriate for million. Additional matching funds circumstances: the status of the the site, given the budget. Then they come from the Kings organization, select the artist and the art itself. The PUBLISHER page 13



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Inside east sacramento apr 2015  

Inside east sacramento apr 2015