Temporary art in square?

Auburn Arts Commission may follow Roseville’s art plan
By: Bridget Jones, Journal staff writer
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The future of artwork in Central Square is still unknown. City Council encouraged the Auburn Arts Commission Monday night to consider sending out a call to artists for temporary art for two of the pedestals in Central Square. The Council also encouraged the Arts Commission to work with the United Auburn Indian Community to come up with a plan for the third pedestal, which will represent the Nisenan people of the Maidu tribe. The commission has a possible $4,000 stipend to use for the art, according to Sue Dings, chairwoman of the Arts Commission. Several years ago the city stopped paying for commission and committee projects out of the general fund, but a savings of $53,000 had been built up in the fund from previous years. This money is still accessible for current projects, including the $4,000 stipend needed for temporary art, according to Bob Richardson, Auburn city manager. Randy Mealhow, chairman of the call-to-artists committee within the commission, said the plan for temporary art is modeled after another Placer County city. “Roseville does have a temporary art program,” Mealhow said. “From what I hear it is successful.” Mealhow said temporary artists in Roseville have been offered $1,000 stipends to loan their art to the city, and Auburn’s temporary art program could offer a similar stipend to each artist. Mealhow said the commission needs to research the program in Roseville and meet on July 13 before it makes decisions about Central Square’s art. Mealhow said the art in Roseville is also for sale, and this could also be a possibility for Auburn. Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby, who proposed the idea for temporary art, said he doesn’t think the city has the finances for permanent art in the square. “In my opinion we cannot afford to fund public art right now,” Kirby said. Kirby said temporary art could be beneficial. “The pedestals otherwise are blank,” Kirby said. “It would allow us to get temporary art in. It would allow us to possibly showcase local artists. This would be a stop gap on the way to permanent art.” Councilman Mike Holmes, liaison between the City Council and Arts Commission, said he is trying to schedule a meeting with the United Auburn Indian Community. Holmes said he doesn’t want to assume the Indian Community would finance the Nisenan-themed artwork. “We haven’t really sat down with them and talked the issue through,” Holmes said. “As far as the artwork in Central Square, we want to explore a number of options with them. They have proposed a piece of artwork we need to get finalized. We want to kind of nail that down with them.” Holmes said while temporary art might be convenient, he was hoping his fellow City Council members would approve funds for permanent art. “An artist may have something off the shelf they have already produced,” he said. “So, this gives us an opportunity to have some kind of art placed there. The permanent art … may take some time to develop. I was disappointed we didn’t offer more funding for permanent art.” Holmes said any future permanent art in the square would probably be funded through private donations and city funds. Mealhow said he understands the City Council’s decision. “Unfortunately we live in economic times where money is an issue with everything,” he said. “I certainly respect the City Council’s decision about funding not being available right now.” Mealhow said temporary art would probably be on loan to the city for two years. Dings said she is hoping to keep the themes of endurance, the Gold Rush and the Nisenan people in Central Square for temporary art. “I try to be optimistic, but we’ll just have to see if there are any artists who want to loan their art to the city for a couple years,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at