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Beth Nybeck's design recommended for Short Street garage art

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 | 10:20 p.m. CDT; updated 1:17 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 6, 2012
The Commission on Cultural Affairs' committee on public art has recommended the design of Kansas City artist Beth Nybeck for the art sculpture outside the parking garage being built on Short Street. Her sculpture, "Tidal Murmur," was inspired by the fluidity, beauty and strength of water.

COLUMBIA — To Kansas City artist Beth Nybeck, the North Village Arts District of Columbia is diverse and energetic. It was this energy she hoped to embrace in her design for an art sculpture outside the parking garage being built on Short Street.

The Commission on Cultural Affairs' committee on public art unanimously voted to recommend Nybeck's design to the Commission on Cultural Affairs on Wednesday.

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The sculpture, named "Tidal Murmur," is composed of four or five "individual wave ripples," according to Nybeck's proposal. She said she was inspired by the fluidity, beauty and strength of water.

"It's about the waves we create," Nybeck said. "It's about the current we are part of or are against in this community."

The committee made its decision with the input of more than 600 submitted public comments on three finalists' proposals. On Monday, the committee will submit its recommendation to the Commission on Cultural Affairs for approval before City Council can grant the project's final approval. Afterward, Nybeck will have 60 days to modify her design in compliance with safety and city codes. 

The art is funded by the 1997 Percent for Art program, which allots 1 percent of new municipal construction or renovation projects with budgets that exceed $1 million for site-specific art, according to the Office of Cultural Affairs website. The Short Street garage art project has a proposed $58,000 budget, with $25,000 for supplementary costs.

Members of the standing committee discussed concerns about the sculpture's length, possible obstruction of sight for traffic and whether to light the sculpture at night. Nybeck will have to work with architects and engineers to finalize details in the sculpture's construction.

Whether public opinion should sway the final decision on whether to recommend Nybeck's sculpture also weighed on the standing committee. Chris Stevens, manager of the Office of Cultural Affairs, said he pushed hard for public input the two weeks after the finalist designs were submitted.

"After previous debacles, it seems like letting the public win would help our credibility," committee member Yolanda Ciolli said.

The council also discussed the fact that Nybeck is not a local artist. Yet committee member Kay McCarthy pointed out that out of 14 pages of public comments on Nybeck's design, she found only 24 negative comments.

The committee, which has two commission members, three council-appointed members and two representatives of departments affected by the current project, said the other two proposals by local artists Bede Clarke and partners Marni Jaime and Robert Friedman were beautiful but lacked Nybeck's public support.

"I want to thank you for the opportunity to dream," Nybeck said in her presentation. "It's rare to be asked to dream and to dream big."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.


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