Steamboat Springs City Council considers lifting moratorium on public art | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs City Council considers lifting moratorium on public art

Scott Franz

John T. Young's "Gates of Asopus" sculpture that is found on the Yampa River Core Trail, created in 1994 as one of Steamboat's first commissioned pieces in its public art collection.

— If the Steamboat Springs City Council's recent discussion about revising a public art policy was a painting, it would have been a very splattered Jackson Pollock, not a neat, easy to understand Winslow Homer.

"They are really all over the place," government programs manager Winnie DelliQuadri said of the council members’ views on a proposal to update the city's public art policy.

The City Council is currently weighing the possibility of ending a moratorium that has prevented new pieces of public art from being added to the city's diverse collection.

Some proposals, including an artistic lighting installation on the Yampa River Core Trail between downtown and Howelsen Hill, haven't been able to advance because of the indefinite art ban.

Others, including a proposal from Bike Town USA to set up temporary art installations, simply faded away.

The moratorium was put in place in 2009 when a lack of funds to acquire and maintain any new pieces of public art led to the disbanding of a public art board.

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Board members had helped the city make decisions about art acquisition and maintenance.

Fast forward to today, and city officials are wanting to adopt a revised art policy that would allow for a more "streamlined" public art process, and ultimately, open the door for new public art proposals on city property.

Officials are also recommending that any new piece of art come with an endowment to fund future maintenance.

Council members had a wide range of opinions about the proposal.

After expressing the need for more fiscal restraint in the city, Councilman Scott Ford moved to extend the moratorium and not accept more pieces of public art at this time.

But no other council member seconded Ford's motion.

Instead, council members are now grappling with whether to bring the art board back, entrust the art vetting to city staff and an ad hoc committee of curators or find some other way to revise the public art policy.

Council members want more details about the costs behind the proposals.

They did not leave a Feb. 7 meeting with a clear direction on the issue. Instead, they asked staff to bring back multiple options for consideration.

According to the city, there are currently 56 pieces of public art on city lands that range from Curtis Zabel's large "Autumn Majesty" bull elk statue in West Lincoln Park to the casted bronze statue of Hazie Werner at the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10