COLUMBIA — Artist Stuart Keeler’s “Sky Algorithm” design is one step away from full approval for the new parking garage under construction at Fifth and Walnut streets.
The Commission on Cultural Affairs voted unanimously Monday to accept an earlier recommendation from the Standing Committee on Public Art, which voted 7-1 in favor of the design.
Keeler’s design is scheduled to be presented next to the City Council at its meeting on Monday July 19.
The installation is planned to be made of pieces of colored glass and enclose the northwest staircase of the garage. Colors for the glass would be pulled from photos of the Columbia sky taken during the summer solstice on June 21.
Etched into the glass would be words written in different languages from cities sharing the 38 degree latitude with Columbia. Text would be limited to general statements relating to the color of the glass and sky, according to committee member Kip Goodman.
Goodman, who will present the design to the council, said he hopes to receive more examples of text from Keeler before the meeting.
“The installation has layers of meaning," Goodman said. "The artist is working on some more examples so we can see how they will play into the whole theme.”
Marie Hunter, manager of the Office of Cultural Affairs, emphasized the importance of “cultural sharing” by having the text be universally applicable.
“People anywhere can look up and say, ‘The sky is blue,’” Hunter said. “Here I can say, ‘Tonight, I’m going to McDonald’s,’ but people in other places cannot.”
The commission also discussed the type of lighting that would be installed in the stairwell, as well as the strength of the installed glass and whether it would hold up to vandalism attempts.
At night, light inside the garage is intended to cause the glass to glow from within. If approved, it would not be brighter than the standard fixtures for garages, it would have to be in compliance with downtown ordinances and pose no problem for nearby homes, Hunter said.
Keeler’s piece will be funded by the Percent for Art program. He will have a budget of up to $110,000 to work with.
Committee member Yolanda Ciolli said she thought the piece was “a really exciting prospect.”
“I’m sure we can’t envision it until it is in place," she said. "There are lots of ideas floating through my head right now."
Other public art projects slated to appear soon in Columbia include a third traffic box at Tenth Street and Broadway. Kate Gray, a professor at Stephens College and the artist selected to design the box, should begin work this week.
Local artists David Spear and Dennis Murphy have already painted two traffic boxes downtown. The boxes sit at Broadway and Ninth Street and Broadway and Hitt Street.
Another project at Fire Station No. 9 at 201 Blue Ridge Road will be installed within the next three weeks, according to Sarah Skaggs of the Office of Cultural Affairs.
Sculptor Glenn Williams of Maryville has completed his piece for the station and should begin to prepare the site for installation Thursday, weather permitting.
Monday’s City Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the City Hall Building at 701 E. Broadway.