Surf sculpture withdrawn

Rather than alter work, sculptor takes back his entry from Brooks Street competition. Future public art at site unclear.

June 04, 2010|By Barbara Diamond

Sculptor Andrew Myers has told the city that the changes made to his submission in the Brooks Street art competition are unacceptable and he is withdrawing his winning entry.

The city was waiting for Myers' written withdrawal before taking further action on its obligation to provide a piece of public art for its Brooks Street access renovation or pay into the art-in-lieu fund. The letter arrived Thursday morning.

"To do anything different from the council's previous action would take subsequent council action," Assistant City Manager John Pietig said. "No date has been set for the item to be heard."


Myers decided to relinquish the $20,000 prize money rather than make the changes to his bronze sculpture of a surfer imposed by the City Council at the May 18 meeting. The changes included relocating and reorienting it and removing the orange color from the surfboard.

"The council compromised the artist's vision, and I agree with his position and I applaud him," said architect Morris Skenderian, who redesigned the Brooks Street public access. "But I don't think any art belongs on that pedestal."

Myers' sculpture was proposed to project up from the pedestal in the center of the access. Objections were raised about the placement, which intruded into the view.

"If we can't put in a piece of art that makes the site better, then don't do it at all," Skenderian said. "Brooks Street Park is a piece of art in itself."

The Arts Commission was aware of the site's historic and visual importance when it began the competition. Rather than offer the $3,000 prize allotted by the city for the art, the commission dipped into its Business Improvement District funds to up the prize to $20,000.

"Three thousand dollars would hardly buy you anything effective, but the additional $17,000 can buy you something," Skenderian said.

Where the "something" is placed was one of the primary issues for the council, as well as Skenderian.

"My hope, although no one asked me, was that the art would go in the landscaping to the left," he said.

The right side, facing the access, where the council wanted the sculpture relocated, is already too cluttered and any art would be lost, Skenderian said.

He suggested that something as simple as the bronze plaque installed after the renovations to the Shoals, another Skenderian project, would be appropriate.

The Shoals is on the site of Frank Cuprien's Viking Studio. The plaque bears the artist's portrait and a brief history of the studio.

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