COLUMBIA — Crews began installing 30 colored glass panels on the northwest stairwell of the Fifth and Walnut parking garage based on photos of the sky during 2010's summer solstice.
Each panel will have the timestamp noting when the color appeared in the sky on June 21, said Stuart Keeler, the artist overseeing the installation.
“These colors represent the time and color of the changing, shifting, moody and memorable sky,” Keeler said. “It illustrates partly that the things that we think we’re familiar with, that we take for granted, are the things that should give us pause — to see the familiar in a new way.”
Some panels will have quotes from writers and proverbs from other countries along the 38th parallel north, which is Columbia's latitude, “showing a larger connection to a global community and the sharing of knowledge,” Keeler said.
The project, known as Sky Algorithm, is part of the Percent for Art program, which designates 1 percent of any publicly funded project toward public art. The budget for this project was about $140,000, which covers future maintenance, administration and the $110,000 commission to the artist, said Connie Kacprowicz, interim manager for the Office of Cultural Affairs.
Jason Tauer, who is a superintendent with Graham Construction overseeing the installation, said the glass panels arrived Wednesday from California, and installation should take three or four days. But depending on the weather, installation could take up to two weeks, Kacprowicz said.
The 30 panes of tempered glass being replaced cannot be recycled and would probably end up in the dumpster, Tauer said.
Kacprowicz said unless the Public Works Department already has plans for the glass, it could donatethe materials to an art school.
“I think there’s a value to having art in public space that the city of Columbia recognizes — to be a leader in the movement of art to impact everyday lives,” Keeler said.
Randy Scott, a delivery driver at Tony’s Pizza Palace, which is across the street from the garage, said the art seemed like a "waste of money" to him.
“They could spend that money repairing roads,” Scott said. “It’s terrible everywhere you go. It’s more important than art.”
Columbia resident James Pounds said he thought the money could have gone to a better use, given the city's tight budget.
“How many cops would that put on the street? How many firefighters could that give raises to?” Pounds said. “We need art, and we have a lot of people in Columbia that are sensitive to art and pay taxes. I’m just not one of them.”