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Public Arts Commission Meeting

August 23, 2018
Meetings & Notices

Public Arts Commission
North Adams, Massachusetts

August 23, 2018 | 5:30pm
North Adams Public Library’s Community Room, 74 Church Street, North Adams
Julia Dixon, Chairperson


Agenda:

1. Call to order

2. Approval of July 11, 2018 minutes

3. NEW BUSINESS: Ordinance revisions discussion

4. NEW BUSINESS: Creation of Commission statement on ordinance revisions for General Government Committee Meeting

5. NEW BUSINESS: Harmonic Bridge discussion including brief recap, mayor’s communication, and community petition/survey

6. NEW BUSINESS: Americans for the Arts’ Creative Conversations program

7. PROPOSAL: Hoosic River Revival’s Flag Project

8. OLD BUSINESS: Final artist contract review

9. OLD BUSINESS: Monthly meeting date discussion

10. Public attendee concerns

11. Member concerns/future agenda items

Public Arts Commission
North Adams, Massachusetts
Public Arts Commission
North Adams, Massachusetts

Meeting Minutes

August 23, 2018

The North Adams Public Arts Commission held a public meeting on August 23, 2018 at the North Adams Public Library, 74 Church Street, North Adams.

Members Present: Julia Dixon, Chairperson
Eric Kerns, Vice Chairperson
William Blackmer, Secretary
Cynthia Quiñones
Bryan Sapienza

Absent: Derek Parker
Gail Kolis Sellers/Resigned

Also Present: Tammy Daniels, Eric Buddington, Vincent Melito, Margo Melito, Joseph Smith, Rebbecca Cohen, Christina King, Richard Tavelli, Bert Lamb, Suzy Helme, and other members of the public.

CALL TO ORDER

Chairperson Dixon called the meeting to order at 5:32 p.m.

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES

Quiñones moved to accept the Public Arts Commission minutes from its July 11, 2018 public meeting. Dixon seconded. All voted in favor. None opposed.

NEW BUSINESS: ORDINANCE REVISIONS DISCUSSION

Discussion of Public Arts Commission ordinance revisions that were proposed by Mayor Thomas Bernard. Changes occur across the entire ordinance and are both grammatical and substantial. Two major revisions change the approval authority from the commission to the mayor, and the contracting authority from the commission to the mayor. Ordinance changes would make it clear that the commission is advisory in nature.


There are other boards and commissions that have contract making authority, limited by the city charter. And the city charter references items valued at $2,000 or more require the mayor’s signature.
Comments by Vincent Melito and Joseph Smith regarding keeping seven people as the authority on art, as opposed to one person who is the mayor.
Quiñones made a motion to retain the contracting and approval authority of the Public Arts Commission. Dixon seconded. All voted in favor. None opposed.
Dixon advises the public attendees that if they have any further comments regarding this matter, they can email or drop them off to the city clerk prior to noon on Monday, August 27th, the date of the joint General Government Committee and Public Arts Commission Public meeting.

NEW BUSINESS: CREATION OF COMMISSION STATEMENT ON ORDINANCE REVISIONS FOR GENERAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE MEETING

Commission statement regarding proposed ordinance changes is to leave the current ordinance contracting and approval authority with the commission.

NEW BUSINESS: HARMONIC BRIDGE DISCUSSION INCLUDING BRIEF RECAP, MAYOR’S COMMUNICATION, AND COMMUNITY PETITION/SURVEY

Brief background provided by Dixon. Harmonic Bridge art installation that included the Marshall Street bridge pillars being painted gray in 1998. Mayoral approval. No contract. Christina King and William Oberst worked with students painting murals on pillars in 2012. Mayoral approval. No contract. They also painted the pillars on the opposite side of street in 2013. In 2017, Mass MoCA refreshed some of their art works and unilaterally decided to paint the pillars gray again, painting over the student work of a local historical nature that was on them. No mention to the public arts commission prior to that action taking place. Subsequent proposal to test a portion of a pillar to see if the gray paint could be removed without damaging the student work underneath was not approved by the commission, as the artists were at that time working toward a possible path to resolve the issue. Resolution by the parties involved was not achieved.

Christina King clarifies that when there was finally a meeting of the artists at Mass MoCA in December 2017, restoration was discussed, and the Harmonic Bridge artist was completely against it. Talk of the artists collaborating on a project has not been mentioned again, except by the mayor, but that was regarding doing a project somewhere else and not on the pillars. No two-way communication with Mass MoCA since that December meeting.

Dixon advises this item was added to the agenda regarding recent clarification of the ordinance that the commission does have contracting authority, which means the commission could make a decision on creating a contract for something that is on the pillars. Comments by Vincent Melito. Kerns advises a definite gray area regarding the commissions purview over any artwork created prior to the existence of the commission. Comments from Joseph Smith regarding the ordinance and powers of the commission and actions taken by MoCA on painting over the pillar art. Vincent Melito presents a petition with about 180 signatures that he gathered at the Downtown Celebration requesting the mayor or public arts commission take action for a restoration test on the pillars. Comment by Richard Tavelli regarding who owns the bridge. It is city property. Joseph Smith speaks of potential short-term contract for a restored pillar art that artists King and Oberst are reportedly amicable to. First time this has been mentioned to the commission. Dixon advises this is not going to be resolved today and could be put on the agenda again for further discussion. Sapienza states that public members have approached him and feel at odds over Mass MoCA taking the children’s pillar art away. Feels we should move forward with some resolution of the issue with the pillar artists and MoCA coming together for a conversation to satisfy both parties to this. Dixon suggests possible public discussion forum that we could discuss at the next meeting. Comments by Christina King, Rebbecca Cohen, And Vincent Melito.

Dixon made a motion to develop some type of public forum, so the public can speak about the pillars and we can gain an understanding of how the public feels about this issue. Quiñones seconded. All voted in favor. None opposed.

Dixon proposes a subcommittee to discuss the specifics and logistics of such an event that can be presented to the full commission at a future meeting as an agenda item.

NEW BUSINESS: AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS’ CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS PROGRAM

Dixon presents overview of the Americans for the Arts’ Creative Conversations Program topic that takes place in October. A conversation happens each October around National Arts and Humanities Month. The topic is, “What is your power to create change in/through the arts?” The ordinance changes have brought to the surface this topic of who has the power to deal with public art in this city and what does that power entail. Possibly to take place in October. Quiñones likes the idea. Some concern about number of items filling the agenda. Also, the program would need a response from us by tomorrow about hosting a discussion. Agreement that conversations about art and community are good to be involved in. Dixon will reach out to the program representative relative to the deadline and possibly engaging in it. Also, discussion of a more generic hosting of the issues by the commission if not formally part of this year’s American’s For the Arts Program.

PROPOSAL: HOOSIC RIVER REVIVAL’S FLAG PROJECT

Bert Lamb from the Hoosic River Rival Coalition Board describes the Hoosic River Revival flag project and various locations for the three 6-foot X 4-foot canvass flags that can be displayed individually or in various configurations together. Multiple locations being considered along the flood control chutes attached to the chain link fence, as well as suspended from the Marshall Street overpass. Four sites identified so far. Planning to move the flags to various sites every three weeks for more exposure. Further questions from commission members regarding attachment, whether flags are longer than the fences they will be attached to, and more specifics on the timeline and locations they will be displayed at. They are expecting to display the flags through October, then start the display again after the winter, around May. Kerns suggests speaking with Mass MoCA about hanging them on campus during the Fresh Grass Festival as well. The proposal and flags look good, and the commission is just looking for answers to the questions about attachment, location, etc. with more specificity. Sapienza has some concern that people visiting the city and seeing something indicating infrastructure problems would present a negative connotation. Discussion that there are these problems with infrastructure, and it is advocating for needed improvements in line with the Hoosic River Revival’s initiative.

OLD BUSINESS: FINAL ARTIST CONTRACT REVIEW

Postponed to future agenda.

PUBLIC ATTENDEE CONCERNS

None

MEMBER CONCERNS/FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS

Blackmer asks what stage we are at currently with the student firebox project that was approved contingent upon contract language that was itself approved last meeting. Dixon provides updates to standing contracts. Project through MCLA with Michelle Daly is at a standstill, as the mayor did not except their liability insurance waiver. Dixon forwarded the approved contracts tailored to the parties for both projects, but they are pending at the mayor’s office.
Kerns and Sapienza comment on the need to assure that any forum regarding the pillars art is structured in such a way as to not devolve into something unproductive.

SET NEXT MEETING TIME AND DATE

Next meeting date to be determined.

ADJOURNMENT

With no other business to discuss, Blackmer moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:39 p.m. Sapienza seconded. All voted in favor. None opposed.

Respectfully submitted,

William Blackmer, Secretary



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