May 30, 2019 — The Public Art Committee (PAC) has successfully completed several projects in the past two years and we are excited about the upcoming large mural project on the side of the PUD building. Since some questions have been raised about this project, we wanted to clarify our role and the specific processes used with this project.
The PAC was formed in 2015 and after setting up processes and procedures for several months, its by-laws were formally approved by the Florence City Council in March 2016. PAC is a volunteer group representing a wide cross-section of the community. Members are artists, gallery owners, business owners and interested citizens.
Members applied and were selected after an interview process and officially appointed by Mayor Joe Henry. The group has recently expanded from 7 to 11 at-large members and two Ex-officio City staff members. The committee has identified and completed a number of projects, including installing three donated sculptures, selecting four “Outdoor Gallery” sculptures on Bay Street and identifying new locations for future artwork.
In addition, a Public Art Steering Committee worked with the port to install a sculpture at the entrance to the port, and PAC also assisted the FEC on the “Dancing with Sea Lions” project.
Since its formation, PAC has been committed to operating in an open and transparent manor.
All meetings (which are held monthly) are open to the public and time is set aside at each meeting for public comment. All PAC activities are also listed on the City of Florence website (www.ci.florence.or.us).
We also update the Florence Urban Renewal Agency (FURA) every 60 days on our progress. As we began work on the large mural on the PUD building, we followed this method of transparency. The process began as far back as August 2017, when the PAC hosted a public forum at City Lights Cinemas to seek community input for planned artwork. A year ago this April, after discussions with Central Lincoln PUD, the City signed a preliminary agreement to begin the process of selecting a mural.
Following a “Call to Artists” last summer, we received 103 applicants that included local artists along with applicants from 25 states and 4 countries.
Last October, using a judging rubric, all entries were scored on five criteria and the applicants were narrowed to 25 artists by the PAC Subcommittee. That same month, all 25 applications were reviewed in depth by a sub-committee and the choices were narrowed down to the final five, which the subcommittee brought to the full committee.
From there, the PAC voted to choose three finalists during a public meeting. In November, PAC sought applications for citizens to be part of the selection process and two citizens-at-large were appointed to the selection committee. Finally, this past December, the selection committee made a unanimous recommendation that the work from Marino-Heidel Studios be selected.
The selection committee brought all the nine renderings to the full PAC, along with its recommendation, so the full committee could see their options. After further discussion, the full PAC voted unanimously to select the Marino-Heidel work as well.
Once again, this occurred during a public meeting and public input was taken before the final decision. Since then, the CLPUD Board unanimously approved the design; notices were sent to owners of all properties within 500 feet of this building advising them of our plans and asking for comment; a front-page article appeared in the Siuslaw News which featured a picture of the concept; PAC began working with the artist on slight modifications to the design to make it historically accurate; the Cultural Council of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians provided input to ensure that the depictions of clothing, colors, etc. were accurate; and the final design was approved last February at the PAC’s regular monthly public meeting.
We have worked very hard to be transparent in this process and we believe we have done that. The PAC chose this design based on a number of factors, including creativity and visual impact, but also because it incorporates our local history in the design: The Siuslaw Bridge, mountains, rivers and wildlife, local flowers, Native American figures, and the bicycle culture to represent a “City in Motion.”
We recognize that art is subjective and not everyone will agree with the content of each piece of artwork that is selected, but we believe in offering a variety of artwork. That is shown by the pieces we have selected thus far, and we are committed to offering other pieces that feature nature, wildlife or other themes on locations in the future.
This is simply one piece in what we hope will be a growing, exciting collection of artwork in Florence. We encourage public input and we hope the public will be even more involved as we move forward. This can be done by attending meetings or joining a sub-committee to help us with our work.
For more information, visit ci.flor ence.or.us/bc-pac/public-art-program.