City Hall Lobby Will Receive $250,000 Artistic Makeover
The Manhattan Beach City Council Tuesday night was presented with two options for public art intended for the wall of City Hall’s lobby. Eilen Stewart, acting manager of Manhattan Beach’s Cultural arts commission, led the presentation.
Out of ninety submissions from artists across the nation, two finalists were selected for the council to vote on.
The first proposal was by New York-based art studio Hou de Sousa, owned by Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa. The duo have won multiple art competitions and focus their efforts on environmentally conscious designs. Their design for Manhattan Beach’s City Hall was “inspired by the beach, […] the surfboards, the sun and the wonderful, clean shapes presented by” each element, said Stewart.
The installation is abstract, with pieces “representative of waves,” Stewart said, the edges of each piece painted with neon colors that will reflect onto the blank wall behind it. Manhattan Beach’s seal would be featured on a circular piece of the wall; the proposal also includes furniture pieces.
The second proposal also comes from New York, from artist Monika Bravo. According to her biography, Bravo’s work is “meditative and investigative.” Her inspiration for the City Hall piece was derived from the landscape of Manhattan Beach, including birds of paradise, bougainvilleas, sand dunes and surf culture. The proposal is a large colorful wall made out of mosaic tile, representing a “vertical garden,” said Stewart.
Some of the tiles for Bravo’s piece would be made from glass, others from ceramic; she has the ability to print images of Manhattan Beach onto the glass tiles.
Before voting, council voiced opinions and concerns regarding both pieces. Councilmember Hadley spoke immediately. “Anything is better than what we have,” she said, referring to the plain brick wall at the center of the lobby.
The Hou de Sousa piece was selected in a 4–1 decision; Councilmember Steve Napolitano dissented, stating the piece makes him feel as though he just entered an Ikea.
Napolitano stressed the importance of informing residents where the funding for the installation would be coming from — the project has a staggering $250,000 budget. “These are restricted funds,” said Napolitano, addressing emails he received from residents uncomfortable with the idea of tax dollars going toward the project.
“These are funds that are coming to us from the one-percent,” said Stewart, referring to developers’ fees specifically allocated towards public art. “The money goes into a trust fund that is overseen by council and is advised upon by the Cultural Arts Commission.”
“These funds can only be spent on public arts projects,” Stewart said. “If these funds are not spent within five years of collecting them, they go back to the person or group they were collected from.”
The Cultural Arts Department currently has around $1.7 million that is not yet allocated to any specific projects; some of the funds are set to expire in two years.
Council members expressed satisfaction at the new art, which will reside just outside council chambers.
“It’s beautiful, it has the city recognition to it,” said Councilmember Nancy Hersman about the selected piece. “But it also has a calmness to it. We want people to walk into City Hall and feel comfortable and calm. We don’t need everybody getting crazy and mad at us.” ER
Originally published on easyreadernews.com