The Public Arts Committee will not dwell on the rejected recommendation for the roundabout Sarasota

Even when P and Q bother you, sometimes you may still find yourself in a quandary. That’s where the Sarasota Public Arts Committee found itself when the City Commission on April 18 rejected its recommendation for Dwell, a coral-style sculpture by artist Sujin Lim for the roundabout on Fruitville Road and the Tamiami Trail.

Dwell’s recommendation was the first product of PAC’s new bid request process, which had previously procured public works options through a request for proposal.

Dwell’s recommendation was the first product of PAC’s new bid request process, which had previously procured public works options through a request for proposal.

Encouraged by the PAC’s preferred Dwell – and not much more enthusiastic about its other two finalists – the committee sent PAC chair Wendy Lerner and old Sarasota planner Mary Davis Wallace back to the committee with the message: Return something locally relevant and make more than one recommendation.

“I was hoping that in this different process (request for bid) we would make one choice for you,” Wallace, who heads the Office of Public Arts, told commissioners at the meeting. “In this way, the effectiveness of the Public Art Committee is preserved. It’s hard when the public art board makes a decision, but then we go back to the drawing board when we make it to order. ”

They went back to the drawing board, but not back to the beginning. During a PAC meeting on Wednesday, members spent about 90 minutes discussing options ranging from launching a new bid request to working independently with Lima to submit a new work.

Options in between included reconsidering the original 140 candidates for the project, reconsidering the top 10 PACs or considering only three finalists plus two pre-selected deputies. The other two finalists – who were included in the commissioners’ packages but were not recommended by the PAC – were Whorligig, a team of three stainless steel orchids by Mark Aeling of St. Petersburg. Petersburg, and the Open Gate, a blue stylized arch of architectural glass above the steel structure of Shan Shan Sheng of San Francisco.

In the end, the committee decided to revisit the top 10 artists and either reconsider previous applications for the roundabout or invite new ones. The general consensus was that reopening the process from the outset would result in largely the same field of candidates.

Wallace said she would develop a new timeline for the work of the PAC in relation to the roundabout project and propose dates for a special meeting in early June.

None of the finalists, with whom city commissioners generally agreed, spoke about the history or geographical importance of Sarasota. The PAC’s mission now is to urge candidates to try again without stifling creativity by imposing exaggerated guidelines.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Lerner said she believes Dwell’s rejection by the commissioner was an opportunity for the PAC to step up its game. She also said it was a signal to committee members to get more involved in advocating for the recommended acts. Two other PAC members attended the April 18 meeting.

“I think some of us are often prone to pieces that we know need to be reworked,” Lerner said. “I think the other thing, as we make decisions, is even broader thinking about the entire collection. The commission has asked us to come back and reconsider this choice, and it is an opportunity to be better. “

Wallace advised the committee that, in the interests of efficiency, one should work within the current bid request, with one important upgrade – providing candidates, assuming everyone wants to continue to participate, with a creative summary that sets parameters that stop short of the topic. The idea is to encourage creativity within the realm of what commissioners – who have loud and critical citizenship in their ears – are looking for in public art in the future.

“I got some conflicting information because on the one hand we say we have to listen to what the commissioners have to say and then in the same conversation we turned around and said we all have to fight for our choice,” PAC member Joanne McCobb said. “I do not know. I just feel like there’s a conflict. “

Wallace said that where public art intersects with politics, conflict is inevitable.

“We are dealing with elected officials,” she said. “We are dealing with people who are constantly under attack from public comment. I can tell you that sometimes it is very difficult not to listen to public feedback and we encourage public feedback, but I also feel that there is a difference between this committee unanimously choosing something and standing behind this process without seeing it through the prism of the people we try convince.

“There was a lack of step because you were unanimous in what you feel, but not once did anyone wonder how the City Commission would see it. I think it is the responsibility of this committee to be careful about the next step. “

That next step will continue when the PAC meets again early next month.

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