Historic Preservation Board Pans Two Sculptures on Eastern Promenade; No Structure in Place to Make Decisions on ‘Temporary’ Public Art

Diane Davison and June LaCombe at Historic Preservation Board Meeting Tonight

By Carol  McCracken  (Post # 1,240)

Late this evening the Historic Preservation Board tabled an application by Friends of the Eastern Promenade and the Department of Public Services, Parks Division to install two iron sculptures on the grassy knoll that projects out into Cutter Street on the Eastern Promenade until numerous questions could be answered by the city council.  Representing the Friends of the Eastern Promenade was its president, Diane Davison.  June LaCombe, a public art consultant who represents Wendy Klemperer, the sculptor of the two animals, was present as well.  No one from the city was present.

LaCombe approached Davison about installing the caribou and the mountain lion in this prominent place on the Eastern Promenade described above.  The aminals would be on display from the end of October 2012 until Sepember 2013.  They would  be for sale during that period of time and available through the Friends of the Eastern Promenade website. The Friends would have received up to 10% of the proceeds of the sale of caribou and mountain lion.  The price tag on the caribou is between $16,000 – $20,000. The price tag on the mountain lion  is between $12,000 to $15,000.

The Board unanimously decided it would table its decision until receiving some direction from the city council on how to proceed on whether it wants to tackle ‘temporary’ art work for sale on public property.  Board member Ted Oldham said there needs to be a “plan” for this.  “There are too many questions here.  This is not our responsibility.”  Oldham said some of the questions that need to be addressed include:  should for sale art be displayed in public places and is this matter under the jurisdiction of the public art committee? 

Several board members including the chair Martha Burke believed that the placing of the animals  on the Eastern Prom was out of character with the location.  There aren’t a lot of caribou and mountain lions in the area, she said.  Burke stated that other artists would probably like to have their art work displayed there.  Is this opening up a problematic precedent?

Deb Andrew, HP administrator, said the Mayor and the planning office had conveyed to her some concerns about the application.

Following the l l/2 hour discussion, LaCombe said she will not pursue the matter.  “That’s it!”

The Friends of the Eastern Promenade was formed about five years to protect  trees that were slated to be cut down there.  The non-profit has about 180 members currently.