Portland Public Arts Committee Lobbying City Council to Counter Critics

Sculpturer Lin Lisberger at Yesterdays Meeting

By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,083)

Members of the city’s Public Arts Committee are preparing to lobby the city council to support its choice for seating on the Bayside Trail. The Committee’s choice is the work of SkyeDesign, a Washington, D.C. studio. The studios two seating pieces come with a price tag of over $40,000 – which has drawn criticism from members of the public due to the economic downturn in the economy. The City has designated the money in its annual budget for the cost of the seating.

The request for public seating originated with Portland Trails. The Public Arts Commitee began a process issuing RFP which resulted in over 100 artists submission of qualificatiaons, from which three artists were selected to submit designs. They included SkyeDesign, Aaron Stephan, Portland, and Gary H. Smith, New Hampshrie. Last summer SkyeDesign won the competition, but the studio has been asked to put the project on hold while the Commitee mounts its own PR campaign with the City Council as well as the public.

Committee members have each been assigned a councilperson to meet with and explain the mission of the Commission because according to Lin Lisberger, a Hill resident and member of the Committee, there are many on the Council who know very little about us. Members of the Committee are equipped with a handout to give to the council member along with a script for them to follow in preparation for the visit.

Portland Trails has submitted a letter to the Committee in support of the Committee’s choice of SkyeDesign, dated February 10, 2012. The seatings will be located at Elm Street and Franklin Street plazas. Next week, the Committee expects to receive another letter of support from the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization. The Committee is also seeking letters of support from other sources.

It had been anticipated that the selection of SkyeDesign by the Committee would go to the city council for its approval last year. However, the item was put on the back burner until its PR campaign was launched. The Committee hopes the matter will be on the Council’s agenda sometime in the spring.