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Claremont's Public Art Project Wasn't 'Imposed'

June 20, 1991

Mr. Banks' letter to the editor (Times, June 13) regarding the June 6 article (concerning a public art project on a lot in downtown Claremont) misstated the facts.

Mr. Banks contended that the installation cost at least $9,000 plus other direct costs. In fact, the total cost was $4,000. Each of the five artists chosen to submit a proposal for the project was awarded a $200 honorarium for the time and work involved in preparing their project.

Donna Williams' project was selected by the Public Art Committee (of the Claremont Community Foundation) because of her thought-provoking and timely concept and because it was clearly articulated and professionally presented. Donna was presented with a $3,000 award, which covered the cost of all materials, her time and the actual installation of the artwork.

In addition, the contract requires Ms. Williams to return the site to its original condition. Because of the recent vandalism to the project, Donna Williams will be paid the added sum of $200-$250 to repair the damage to the installation. The exact amount will depend upon the cost of the materials.

The funding for the project came from two primary sources: a foundation grant of $2,500 from the Public Art Mission Area and $1,700 from private contributions specifically earmarked for this temporary art installation. Fortunately, the private donations will also cover the cost of repairs to the installation.

No city funds were used to finance any portion of this installation, and no city employees were ever involved in installing or maintaining the installation.

The temporary artwork was installed by Donna Williams and her husband and various friends who assisted them. Since the installation is on Pomona College property, the grounds crew of that college continues to water and mow the lot on a regular basis.

Mr. Banks referred to the intrusion of the artwork on the "park" and the fact that there was no public discussion of the piece before it was "imposed." The property is owned by Pomona College. The fact that Mr. Banks lives next door to the lot and enjoys the openness of the corner does not make it a public park.

Mr. Banks also refers to the installation as limiting the use of the lot; we beg to disagree. There is ample room on three sides of the installation to sit, to picnic and to throw Frisbees. We have seen several people in the last few weeks sitting under the trees adjacent to the installation reading and talking to friends.

One individual, in fact, mentioned that it was pleasant to be shielded by the opaque netting from the sidewalk and the traffic while sitting under the trees.

The lack of public involvement in the selection of the art project seems to be a significant concern for Mr. Banks. The board of the Claremont Community Foundation is made up of 26 citizens of Claremont. The Public Art Committee is made up of an additional seven citizens. Each of these 33 people, plus additional chamber representatives, had a part in reviewing, discussing and approving the temporary installation.

JOE UNIS MD, chair, Public Art Committee

MARY F. WEIS, executive director, Claremont Community Foundation

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