Langley Arts Fund taking charge of sculpture project

Council members agreed to transfer the sculpture program from the arts commission to the nonprofit.

Island County artists are encouraged to submit works for consideration as part of a new Loaned Sculpture Program in Langley.

During a city council meeting last week, Langley’s council members agreed to transfer the responsibility of the sculpture program from the city’s inactive Langley Arts Commission to the Langley Arts Fund, a nonprofit that was successful in raising funds for the Wishing Whale in Whale Bell Park and the Weathervane Sculpture in Clyde Alley.

Board members of the Langley Arts Fund had been seeking approval from the council to replace a sculpture on Second Street, where a pedestal has sat empty for the past several months near Callahan’s Firehouse.

Art will be chosen by the organization and installed if approved by the council, at no cost to the city. The arts fund will provide a plaque for the work.

“We’d like to institute this as an ongoing program,” Frank Rose, a board member for the Langley Arts Fund, said.

He added that the program will follow a two-year cycle and will eventually have more sites in Langley’s downtown corridor.

The Langley Arts Commission, which currently has no active members, was previously responsible for putting the art on the pedestals.

Joann Quintana, another board member for the Langley Arts Fund, said the organization will be taking on the fundraising for public art. Once Langley Creates, the city’s new creative district, receives its nonprofit certification, the arts fund will become one of its committees.

“We thought it made sense, rather than letting that whole public sculpture program of the city languish, that we would step in and take responsibility for it and relieve the city,” Quintana said.

Council members agreed it was a good idea and approved the group’s proposal. One disgruntled Langley citizen, however, took issue with the proposal and, due to technical difficulties with the teleconferenced meeting, was not able to publicly comment while the council was discussing the agenda item.

Sharon Emerson questioned the transparency of the Langley Arts Fund and said a city committee would be better suited to making decisions about art.

“The problem as I see it now is that an outside body not subject to the city’s public meeting laws is proposing taking over, choosing and managing sculptures on public property in Langley,” she said.

She recommended a revival of the Langley Arts Commission.

In response, Mayor Tim Callison said the “mechanism for approval” of any art will remain the same, with it having to go through both the city council and the Design Review Board.

“I’d like to point out that the thing the council just approved is a very small slice of arts in Langley,” Callison said.

Council Member Thomas Gill said he thought it was a good idea for the Langley Arts Fund to take over the former city committee’s financial responsibilities. The nonprofit will be paying the artist stipend, which amounts to $1,000.

Council Member Peter Morton said he was also a board member for the Langley Arts Fund, and that he would be happy to report on its activity to the council.

For other council members, even discussing art in the city offered a glimmer of hope for the post-pandemic future.

“For me, this conversation alone is reminding me that someday the pandemic is going to be over and we’re going to be back out there celebrating and doing stuff,” Council Member Christy Korrow said.

“I think it’s just important to keep envisioning the future so we can all stay hopeful,” she said.

On Monday the new Loaned Sculpture Program announced a call for artists’ submission applications. Creative types have until March 19 to apply to display their work on the open pedestal.

The height, width and depth of the art must consider the 9-by-12 foot site limitation. Materials must be suitable for the Pacific Northwest and the work must be designed to be maintenance-free.

A 20 percent commission on all works sold as a result of the exhibit will go to the Langley Arts Fund.

Questions may be addressed to Rose at 360-730-6483 or frankirose798@gmail.com.

For more information, visit https://www.langleyartsfund.com

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