Art budget still needed

Budget for pedestal art will be brought before City Council
By: Bridget Jones Journal Staff writer
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Auburn should spend at least $50,000 on Central Square artwork, one city councilman said. “We’re hoping to have an item on the agenda for (May) 24 that will allow the council to vote on how much money the council wants to allow for public art,” Councilman Mike Holmes said Monday. Holmes said it would be difficult for the Arts Commission to make a call to artists without a budget for the three pieces of artwork expected in the square. “It’s our impression that artists are not going to respond as fully as they might … unless there is a possible commission that will pay them a decent amount,” he said. A budget proposal has already been given to Bob Richardson, Auburn city manager, Holmes said. “I’ve suggested to the city manager that there be a minimum of $50,000,” he said. “We don’t know whether it will include the entire Streetscape or just Central Square. My guess is it will be limited to Central Square.” Representatives from the city, Arts Commission and Streetscape Committee met Thursday in Central Square to measure and discuss the square’s three pedestals. The largest of the pedestals is slated to represent the Gold Rush, while the two smaller pedestals will represent endurance and the Nisenan people of the Maidu Native American tribe. A river theme will be incorporated into all three pedestals, according to the Arts Commission. Art Commission representatives posed several questions to Bernie Schroeder, city engineering division manager, including whether or not water could be used in pedestal artwork and if nearby planters could be relocated if necessary. “These particular pots have drain lines and they have irrigation that have been incorporated into the location,” Schroeder said Thursday. “We can’t just arbitrarily move them six feet to the right.” Schroeder also suggested keeping the final design of the square simple because a small staff would be maintaining it and to keep it aesthetically pleasing. “I’ve gone around with this,” she said. “You don’t want to make something that looks like a roller rink. Some people prefer a lot of eye candy … and other people like a nice, clean, open space.” Randy Mealhow, a member of the Arts Commission, said he’s excited to see the artwork proposals come in once a call to artists has been made. “To me what’s fun with artists is they are creative and you never know what you’re going to get from them,” Mealhow said. Auburn City Councilman Keith Nesbitt said a proposal is also going before the council to move the American flag back into Central Square. Nesbitt said he is hoping to have the words of the Pledge of Allegiance etched on the ground below the flag if it is moved. Lyle Solomon, an Auburn resident, said he is all for moving the flag. “I think that’s great,” Solomon said. “You stop and think … people born after 1950 don’t realize the sacrifices made for that flag. Wherever that flag has stood in the world, people flock to it … because they know they will be free from tyranny.” Reach Bridget Jones at