Columbia project offers Boone County artists the chance to decorate city hall

Art sought for fourth and fifth floors of building
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | 6:24 p.m. CDT; updated 11:59 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 27, 2011

COLUMBIA — Artists who live in Boone County have the opportunity to decorate the four and fifth floor of city hall.

This project is part of Columbia's Percent for Art program, which began in 1997.

The program sets aside 1 percent of the cost of city government buildings to pay for public art and its maintenance.

Yolanda Ciolli is a member of the Standing Committee on Public Art. “The main focus of the public art project is to keep Columbia's art community thriving and include art in all public structures wherever possible,” she said.

The budget for each floor is $11,000, just as it was for past projects on the second and third floors.

The fourth floor of city hall includes offices of the Water and Light Department, and the fifth floor is home to the Finance and Community Development Departments.

The Office of Cultural Affairs suggests artists design artwork for public areas of the building, but Connie Kacprowicz, interim manager of the Office of Cultural Affairs, said that's optional. "We are going to leave that up to the artist and the committee," she said.

Applicants should send their qualifications to the Office of Cultural Affairs before Nov. 18. After the deadline the committee will look through all the artists' applications and narrow the field down to finalists. Ciolli said there probably will be two finalists per floor.

The standing committee will first look at the applicants' portfolios to determine whether they have enough background and experience in public art. It will recommend finalists to the Commission on Cultural Affairs, which in turn will advise the Columbia City Council. The council will make the final decision.

Once the artists are selected, they will get small amounts of their $11,000 budgets to create design proposals. That is when the Office of Cultural Affairs will accept public comment.

“That is traditionally what the process has been," Kacprowicz said. "It is the national standard as far as selecting public art.”

The City Council last year asked to review the process for selecting artists. “The council wants to see the proposals early on in the process, along with the selection of the artist,” Kacprowicz said. That policy will begin with the selection of public art for the Short Street garage.

The Standing Committee on Public Art is open to any design proposal as long as it fits with the architecture of the building.

“If you look at all of the public art in Columbia, it generally has some tie to the community,” Kacprowicz said. For example, Howard Meehan's sculpture “Keys to the City” on the plaza outside city hall has historical images of the city of Columbia.

For the time being, artists can visit the fourth and fifth floor of city hall to check out the space. Columbia artist Jenny McGee, who learned about the project through an email announcement, was doing just that on Wednesday. She wants to apply but said she first needs to do some research.

McGee does mixed media painting. "I use a variety of textures and materials in my paintings that are all eco-friendly," she said.

The Office of Cultural Affairs estimates an artist will be recommended to the council by March 2012 and a design proposal should be submitted in May or June.

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