Aug. 7, 2019 — Florence City Councilors had a full day on Monday as they met in the morning for a work session with members of the Public Art Committee (PAC) and later in the day attended the first of two council meetings scheduled for August.
The future of PAC and the manner in which the city and the Florence art community interact, while still tentative, appeared to take a positive step forward Monday morning.
The last year has been a difficult one for PAC and the city council, as members of the two groups have clashed over the issues of leadership, autonomy and process.
The installation of murals on two sides of the Central Lincoln PUD building, on the corner of Quince Street and Highway 126, seemed to crystallize opposition to the use of public monies for the purchase and installation of art.
The Quince Street mural was created by Marino-Heidel Studios in response to a “Call for Artists” from PAC and the artists were selected from more than 100 entries received. Public forums and packed city council meetings which questioned not only the art selected but the process used to select the art resulted in a concerted effort on the part of Mayor Joe Henry and others to separate PAC from the city.
Henry has been at the center of the debate regarding not only the performance of the committee, but also in questioning the need for PAC to continue. To that end, Henry introduced a motion at the July 15 Florence City Council meeting that would require PAC to present to the council a plan to fundamentally change the committee’s operating mandate. The council passed the motion on a 3-2 vote to allow PAC 90 days to reimagine the way it operates.
Monday’s meeting was a joint workshop intended to further that goal.
At a tense city council meeting last month, the animosity between city councilors Joshua Greene, Geraldine Lucio and Henry ended with Greene angrily leaving the meeting before its conclusion. That level of frustration was not evident during Monday’s work session as Henry and Greene were restrained in their comments. While some tension was evident, the meeting was civil and ultimately productive.
The main tangible result of the work session was the agreement that the PAC by-laws would be reviewed by councilors and their recommendations would be incorporated into a new version of the governing rules for the committee.
While the actual work produced by the joint work session on Monday was limited, it represented steps made by the two entities to move forward.
Greene was in attendance at the Monday meeting, which centered on the responses given when Henry asked PAC members to consider the role art played in the overall assessment of the city’s needs. The discussion then continued with Henry asking PAC members and councilors to share their vision of what form that relationship between the two entities would take in the future.
As the thoughts and concerns of PAC members were presented, Henry listened and expressed his appreciation for the work done by the volunteers of PAC.
Henry has been forthcoming with his criticism of PAC leadership and what he considers to be the unprofessional behavior of former ex-officio representative of the city council, Greene. Henry has also expressed irritation with comments allegedly made by Harlen Springer, Chairperson of PAC.
Henry was noticeably less strident in his approach to the future of PAC on Monday.
Springer assured councilors that the new funding challenges faced by PAC would be incorporated into whatever emerges as the end decision of the council regarding the committee’s future.
He also guaranteed members of the joint meeting that whatever decisions the council made in regard to PAC would be accepted and incorporated into the new PAC mandate.
The next meeting of the Public Art Committee, which is open to the public, will be Monday, Aug. 26, beginning at 10 a.m. For more info, visit ci.florence.or.us.