Update: Public Art Commission initiates process to remove Midtown Poetry Wall from art collection | News


Editor’s be aware: The initial article has been up-to-date following the Community Art Commission assembly on June 16:

The Community Artwork Commission voted unanimously on Thursday night to commence the process to remove the Midtown Poetry Wall from Palo Alto’s permanent public art assortment.

The poetry wall, a sequence of six painted murals at 2605 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto’s Midtown neighborhood, is in require of mend, and metropolis personnel experienced advisable the wall be “deaccessioned,” which indicates the murals would be fixed as temporary artwork but could eventually be wrecked.

The fee also accepted as part of the motion by Commissioner Ben Miyaji to have staff provide an “Solution C” in addition to two proposals for briefly fixing the wall. That alternative would search at dialogue with the neighborhood to perhaps exchange the Poetry Wall with one more short term artwork installation.

The commission’s vote to initiate the deaccession procedure commences the legal clock by which team should give the public and stakeholders 90 days to be notified and post comments. In Oct, the fee will discuss and vote on whether to formally take out the murals from the city’s assortment and designate them as non permanent art. Repairs would start off to refurbish the murals.

Dependent on the strategy of maintenance, the murals could very last one more two to 10 several years, supplying the local community time to discuss what they want to see at the web-site if they want a diverse mural, Elise DeMarzo, general public art system director, mentioned.

Employees was alerted by the building’s proprietor that the murals were damaged and they desired to see them refurbished or have a thing else put in their location. The residence owner remains committed to enabling the wall to feature an art show, DeMarzo said.

Staff claimed in a report that the murals should really be deaccessioned mainly because servicing is infeasible in the long time period.

The complete expense to mend the poetry wall mural would be $23,120 to $28,530, according to the team report.

“Taking into consideration the fundamental challenges with the website and results offered in the condition reports by artwork conservation professionals, the ongoing influence of a higher degree of ultraviolet exposure and significant typical bills to preserve the mural in the future, the employees will endorse that commissioners initiate deaccession proceedings as outlined in the City’s Deaccession of Artwork Policy prior to restoring the murals as a momentary artwork,” they wrote.

Inhabitants said the poetry wall is the only just one of its form in the city and is one of several items of artwork in the Midtown retail region, and they want it preserved.

“Midtown always appears to be to be the weak stepchild of the town in terms of funding,” claimed Annette Glanckopf, a longtime Midtown People Affiliation leader who opposes deaccession. She famous the city’s investments in lots of murals and artworks found in areas these as California Avenue.

“We really don’t have a poetry wall wherever in the town. Midtown is an eclectic neighborhood. This is a exclusive piece of artwork, and the strategy was distinctive. It can be very simple to paint about it if it can be not formal any longer,” Glanckopf mentioned.

The six murals on the poetry wall each consist of a small poem stenciled onto a various background painted on the south-experiencing exterior wall of the Walgreens developing at Midtown Buying centre. In 2002, the Community Artwork Commission and the Midtown Inhabitants Affiliation formed an art committee with neighborhood poet Elizabeth Biller Chapman and released a group poetry levels of competition for folks residing, doing the job or attending faculty in Palo Alto and Stanford.

Ron LeBlanc, Amelia Saliba Prolonged, Elizabeth Ray Mittmann, Liz Cowie, Sharon Olson and Janice Dabney ended up the six finalists decided on out of the additional than 100 contestants to have their poems, which are 30 terms or fewer and shell out tribute to the neighborhood, put on the wall. Initial-put finalist LeBlanc gained $250, and the next-put winners obtained $100 each and every.

The initial undertaking was supposed as a temporary display screen of the 5 next-put poems, which have been to be printed on vinyl content and displayed for six months. LeBlanc’s initial-position poem was to be painted as a mural thereafter, according to the employees report.

But the vinyl panels were being found to be too high-priced, with bids in between $13,000 to $15,000. The commission made the decision to paint all 6 poem murals specifically onto the 120-foot by 6-foot wall in 2003, in accordance to the employees report.

By 2010, however, the murals appeared to be in bad all round affliction with considerable spots of paint discoloration, blanching and fading, according to the personnel report. The town hired a contractor to repaint the murals for $10,135 in 2012.

The restorations did not previous, nevertheless.

In 2021, the town hired Preservation Arts, a Bay Spot-centered fine art conservation specialist, to evaluate the murals. The expert identified the murals’ latex paint and coating act as a polymer “film,” stopping drinking water evaporation in the wall, which brought about water hurt. The murals also had substantial UV-light-weight injury.

“An in depth conservation treatment method would be essential to stabilize and restore the murals, nonetheless, treatment cannot avert long run cracking, blistering, and paint reduction in new locations, and challenges are probably to be ongoing,” the Preservation Arts evaluation pointed out.

The drinking water problem must be tackled in the wall before conservation therapy is carried out, otherwise it is probable the murals will need routine maintenance each individual number of several years to restore new locations of harm, in accordance to the evaluation.

Stabilizing, cleaning, and visually restoring the murals ended up approximated to price tag $12,635 to $13,650.

The commissioners held a specific meeting on Nov. 4, all through which they analyzed the Preservation Arts issue report, reviewed money fully commited to the maintenance of poetry wall murals concerning 2003 and 2021 and took into thought public opinions. Staff members claimed that the town has invested $19,465 on the project, commencing with the dollars prizes to the poets and for all repairs and assessments.

In their report, metropolis staff members concluded that the only appropriate way to continue with fixing the murals would be to fully remove them and stabilize/prime the wall at a price estimate of $10,580. The metropolis would then have two selections: to totally reproduce the poetry wall by repainting the murals (cost estimates array: $14,957 to $17,950), with an predicted existence cycle of seven to 10 several years or reproduce the murals on adhesive aluminum at a cost estimate of $12,540, with an envisioned lifetime cycle of two to a few a long time.

Staff would return to the fee to ask for acceptance of money for the reproduction of the poetry wall murals as non permanent artwork. Cash from the Money Advancement Strategy Artwork in Public Locations would be used to recreate the murals.

DeMarzo stated if the murals remain in the city’s collection of long lasting artwork, the office could restore them through its fund, but performing so would use up most of the $30,000 routine maintenance funds they have for all initiatives for the duration of the entire year.

“It is really genuinely an accounting situation,” Commissioner Hsinya Shen famous of the difference concerning employing the Money Enhancement Program resources, which would not choose from the maintenance budget.

The fee will return to the matter at its October conference and could formally vote on the deaccession proposal.


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