“Art Program” Deserves Closer Scrutiny
By Don Wilder
I have been a resident of Mission Viejo since 1970 and have lived in the same house since then except for a several year hiatus that ended when I returned last February.
Among some of the changes I have seen on my return are kiosks, sculptures and public “art” at several places around town. While appreciation of “art” is very subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this beholder sees little beauty and has little appreciation for much of what has been installed in our city and passed off as “art.”
I recently learned that some applicants for city approval of major new projects or improvements are required to make a contribution for art installations around the city in order to obtain approval of their projects. On the project I am aware of, the demand was for $10,000, either art of that value to be selected by the applicant and installed on the project site (subject to city approval) or a payment to the city for “art” to be installed at some other location in the city. It is unclear whether the applicant writing the check would have any say as to the selection of the art to be selected and installed by the city.
It seems to me that the city might do a good thing if it would initiate opening the books on the whole public art program in all its detail, e.g.; what companies and projects have contributed? How many times and how much money? What is the accounting for contributions received and art purchased? What is the cost of each item of public art in our city? Who are the artists for each of the “art” items and what are their credentials? What is the process for selecting each artist and item of art? Who in the city has the final say?
Maybe the city could publish an article with all the above-described details in the Mission Viejo City Outlook Newsletter so that its citizens can understand how the city works to make our town a better place to live for our residents and businesses.
Don Wilder is a native southern Californian and resident of Mission Viejo since 1970. He bought his home after returning from Viet Nam while serving with the U.S. Navy. His two children attended local schools before attending and graduating from Cal State Universities. Don is now retired from the law department of a major computer manufacturer and services company.
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