Art choices will help city | Editorial
June 14, 2011 · Updated 1:43 PM
Moon waves, a mermaid and three bronze ducklings: These are the winning art pieces in the effort to brighten up downtown Oak Harbor with works of art to go with the rebuilt Pioneer Way.
In a way, the choices by the City Council were disappointing to the Arts Commission, which had spent months soliciting, poring over and discussing various works of art, as well as stuffing a survey in utility bills and offering an online voting opportunity.
The rather predictable mermaid was not the Arts Commission’s favorite, but the public preferred it by far. The moon and waves sculpture was the commission’s third choice, not its second, but the council went for it anyway. The commission’s choice, a work called “Sea Life,” will never materialize in Oak Harbor.
The third piece everyone likes, as is usually the case when Clinton’s famed bronze artist, Georgia Gerber, makes a proposal. It’s a comical piece with one of the three ducklings falling down, and kids are bound to love it. Since it came in late the council is sending it back through the public vetting process while it scrounges for the money to pay for it.
The Arts Commission’s greatest stumbling block was money. They thought they had more to work with than proved to be the case. The commission started with nearly $60,000 in its own coffers and a promised $80,000, or 1 percent of the downtown reconstruction cost, from the city. But that money disappeared when it turned out the real estate excise tax source could not be used for art projects. The commission’s initial proposal of five pieces totaling $125,000 ended up as two pieces, with hopes of finding more money for the third.
Despite the present controversy, the public ultimately will be happy, we think, with the three pieces of art to be acquired. Arts Commission members should be honored for their hard work and valuable input, and for making sure the process was open in every way. As an advisory committee they did a great job. The fact that much of their advice wasn’t taken by elected officials just goes with the territory.