"Thrilled." "Wonderful." "Thank God."
That was how some Boulder residents greeted the news that the city has put the brakes on a controversial public art piece planned for the outside of the city's public library: a big, red "Yes!"
City Manager Jane Brautigam acknowledged Monday in a press release that the city did not seek enough public feedback before selecting the work.
She said that the "Yes!" artwork "will not move forward as planned," and said the city's public art policy must be revised "to fully achieve the community's vision for public art."
"The selection committee properly followed the Interim Policy on Public Arts and did an excellent job identifying well-known artists to participate in this project," said Brautigam. "However, it is clear that the interim policy does not provide ample community input to ensure the selected art piece adequately reflects the Boulder community. We want to revisit how the city can create more robust public involvement in selecting public art projects before finalizing the selection."
If you go
What: Boulder City Council
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Boulder Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway
Info: To see the complete Boulder City Council agenda, go to bit.ly/1fxZJ2n
The Boulder City Council will discuss the city's Interim Policy on Public Arts and consider directing staff to propose revisions to the policy at its Tuesday night meeting.
Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum said the City Council does not intend to micromanage the public arts process or vote on every piece. However, it was clear from the level of reaction that the current policy did not produce the appropriate outcome.
Boulder spokeswoman Jennifer Bray said the revisions to the public art policy will be part of the development of a Community Cultural Plan that will take most of the year. It could be 2016 before the city revisits the selection of art for the library.
"Yes!" was chosen from 367 entries submitted for $150,000 in unclaimed Arts Commission grant money. The committee that chose it consisted of members of the Library Commission, the Arts Commission, a local artist, an arts professional and the architect for the main library renovation.
However, when the design was unveiled, it was greeted with dismay by much of the public.
Bray said somewhere between 100 and 150 people have called or written the city to complain about "Yes!"
Retired teacher T Valladares said he was "appalled."
"Who wants to look at the back of a sign from inside a building that is designed to give a beautiful view of Boulder?" he said.
His wife, artist Maria Valladarez, said for that amount of money, the city could have gotten multiple works of art from local artists.
They both welcomed the idea of a more public process.
Valladarez said seeking public input doesn't have to mean the art is less sophisticated.
"There are pieces that many people can enjoy and that are still modern," she said. "It's supposed to be about pleasure and enjoyment. Even if the art in Boulder lags behind what is in New York, it should represent the people in Boulder."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or firstname.lastname@example.org