Portland Considers Guidelines for Temporary Art Projects on Public Property; Task Force to Meet in January

Lin Lisberger, co-chair of the Portland Public Art Committee

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,263)

“The city is drawing up guidelines for temporary art on public property,” said Lin Lisberger, co-chair of the Portland Public Art Committee at its monthly meeting this afternoon at the Portland Publilc Library.  “There is interest in the subject.” Currently, there is no structure in place to regulate the placement of art that is on display on public property temporarily.

The issue surfaced last month, when the Friends of the Eastern Promenade and the Department of Public Services appeared before the Historic Preservation Board requesting permission to install two iron sculptures on the Eastern Promenade for one year.  June LaCombe, a public art consultant who represents sculptor Wendy Klemperer was the originator of the idea and approached Diane Davison, president of the Friends of the Eastern Promenade.  If the two sculptures had been installed on the Prom as requested and sold, both LaCombe and Friends of the Eastern Promenade stood to make commissions from their sale. However, at its October 17, meeting the “HPB” informed the applicants that the city had no structure in place to make decisions on temporary public art.  Consequently, the Board tabled the matter.

The Portland Public Art Committee wrote a letter to Michael Bobinsky, Director, of the Department of Public Services dated October 22nd.  It said in part:  “The PPAC wishes to convey to you our specific concern about the aspect of the proposed placement that the work is for sale.  We caution that exhibiting art that is or could be construed as promoting its private sale could set a worrisome precedent, in the absence of an established policy related there.”  The PPAC offered to be involved or take the lead should the city have an interest in pursuing this avenue.  (A committee of the Public Services Department had previously approved the application for the installation; a committee  on which Diane Davison, FOEP president,  is a member.)

Representatives from the PPAC indicated willingness to serve on a task force in conjunction with the Department of Public Services to address the issue.  The matter will not be taken up until after the holidays; in January 2013, according to Alex Jaegermen, city’s planning office.  

Please visit Post # 1,240 dated October 17 herein for more information.