COLUMBIA — The second and third floors of the new city government building will play host to works from two local artists.
The Columbia City Council unanimously approved the proposals for the art in the new City Hall building at its meeting on Monday night. One of the proposals was for a series of abstract paintings, the other for bronze sculptures of animals.
The Cultural Affairs Commission has set aside $20,000 for ongoing maintenance of these pieces and $3,000 for administrative costs. The artists will each be paid $11,000. The money is from the Percent for Art program, which allows for 1 percent of the cost of new city construction or renovation projects to be used for site-specific art.
Commission member Kip Goodman presented the two proposals to the council.
The first proposal was a concept by MU art professor Lampo Leong. The proposal was for a series of three abstract paintings, meant to represent Columbia. They will reside on the second floor of City Hall.
According to Leong's artist's statement, the paintings follow Leong's "current conceptual exploration in painting with additional elements making them unique for Columbia."
Goodman explained the concept as the council and audience members gazed at the design. "The paintings combine abstract, impressionist designs with subtle, aerial imagery of Columbia," he said.
The paintings also overlay images of English words with Chinese calligraphic letters to symbolize Columbia's ethnic and cultural diversity.
Public comment posted on the city's website ranged from disapproving to soaring praise. Some felt the pieces were too harsh and aggressive, while others praised Leong for his vision and culturally innovative design.
The second proposal was a concept by Chris Morrey: two bronze dog sculptures staring at a bird wedged in the ceiling light. The sculptures will live on the third floor of City Hall.
Morrey described his concept in his artist's statement as a reflection of the community's concern for nature.
"My work speaks to these people on many different levels, and also reminds those who may feel unconnected to the natural world that they are inescapably part of it," he said.
Morrey's design was met with generally positive public comment on the city website. There was a concern that people might trip over the dogs, but Sarah Skaggs, program specialist for the Cultural Affairs Commission, said at the council meeting that the artist had taken safety into consideration and would work to make trip hazard minimal.
Skaggs said later in a separate interview that the concepts were proposals and that the artists would adjust and refine the designs. She added that they wouldn't be exactly the same as the original proposals.
There are some who feel the money for the artwork should be saved instead, including the sole public commenter at the meeting. One comment on the city's website also stated: "It cannot be said that it is not an additional expenditure because it is part of the construction project. Money saved is money saved and should be returned to the general operating fund of the city. ... I expect better stewardship of our city funds."