By Richard Smith, Independent Newsmedia
The Surprise Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission recently presented its wish list for aesthetic improvements at City Hall.
The commission consulted with John Cane of Architecton, the principal architect of City Hall. He joined in the presentation at the Feb. 21 work session.
Some simple solutions, Mr. Cane said, include the LED lighting technology to make pieces and their creators. He said this technology was not refined when the building opened in 2009.
“I really do appreciate that you went to the architect. There’s no better place to get a sense of what was in his head when he was designing the building,” Surprise Mayor Sharon Walcott said.
The list of potential projects started small, in both scope and cost. It includes:
• Adding accent walls to the art corridor on the first floor of City Hall next to the cashier’s area.
• Installing ultraviolet glass and frames at the Mayor’s atrium (which is above the City Clerk’s office and passport reception area) to protect some of the photos already there. Though this may sound pricey, the commission estimated $25,000 for this project in its presentation.
• Moving the “Oracle” mask from its current location at the south entrance near Arts HQ and placing it in some casing, most likely on the second floor.
• Adding LED lighting on a platform at the south entrance to City Hall. Surprise works with graduate students of local universities there to lease artwork.
• Painting accent walls in the lobby.
• Removing minerals from the water at the outdoor City Hall fountain to aid in preventing calcium buildup on rock faces. A regular flush/scrub/flush of all water in the system is recommended to keep buildups at a minimum. An “mPulse 3000” along with a filter and install a water softening or reverse osmosis system is recommended. Rough costs are $18,000-$20,000, according to the presentation document.
“I like what you talked about on the fountain. I think the fountain needs help over time. It’s got calcium buildup and we need to make sure it’s looking good,” Councilman Skip Hall said. “We’ve got this beautiful City Hall building and we’ve got some details that don’t look so good.”
• Designing a mural on the north wall by the city cashier
Mayor Wolcott liked the relocation ideas, as well as a mural. That wall is crying for something, she said.
“Some of it was based on high impact low cost,” commission chair Susan deJong said. “A lot of this is lower cost with a lot of impact. We can do it quickly. We have some of it in our arts commission budget now.”
A few of the proposals would come with a bigger ticket.
One would be a planter/bench at the first floor customer seating area. Plus, the idea is to move the “Totem” sculpture now next to the stairwell in the center of this planter to protect it.
Councilman Hall asked several questions about this because the plantar looked like a piece of art and not a functional bench. But the artistic touches are in the center and Ms. deJong said the bench can have upholstered or hard back seating, or it can match the stone that is in the area.
Councilman Roland Winters said he likes the idea of moving the already-damaged totem.
The costliest item, a suspended work of art in the building’s main atrium, would serve as a signature sculpture for residents, city staff and visitors. Estimated costs for a large-scale vertical artwork would be between $150,000-$200,000, plus lighting.
In addition to material and fabrication costs, artists who work in the public sphere would have to consider engineering, insurance, permits, travel and more. If approved down the road, the commission stated this artwork should be site-specific, with input from a variety of stakeholders, rather than a direct purchase.
The commission and council discussed a Surprise Public Art Policies and Procedures Guide during Tuesday’s work session. No action was taken and results were not available at press time.