$180K FIX


City en­gi­neers have come up with a $180,000 fix for a nearly half-mil­lion-dol­lar piece of art that burned holes in an ad­mirer’s jacket four years ago, coun­cil heard mon­day.

Ques­tions about the pol­ished me­tal orb known as Wish­ing Well dom­i­nated a con­ver­sa­tion about ex­empt­ing two projects from a re­cent pause on the city’s con­tentious pub­lic art pro­gram at mon­day’s coun­cil meet­ing.

“Can we just move (it) in­doors, like (the) atrium?” asked Ward 4 Coun. sean

Chu. “It would cost noth­ing. $180,000 — that’s a lot of money.”

sarah Iley, man­ager of arts and cul­ture with the city, told coun­cil the size of the four-me­tre-tall, three-and-ahalf-tonne sculp­ture makes it dif­fi­cult to dis­play in­doors.

In­stalled in the fall of 2012 out­side the Ge­n­e­sis Cen­tre, the in­ter­ac­tive steel piece by a team from Cal­i­for­nia has sat in a city ware­house since ’14 af­ter be­ing deemed a safety haz­ard when sun­light re­flected off its shiny sur­face and melted holes in an on­looker’s jacket.

Iley told coun­cil the city spent $416,000 on the art and, af­ter the artist failed to mit­i­gate the is­sue, city en­gi­neers have come up with “a very good so­lu­tion.”

“They feel that we could get it re­in­stalled back in that site that it was built for orig­i­nally at the Ge­n­e­sis Cen­tre for $145,000, but we wanted to put in some con­tin­gency for any ad­di­tional costs,” Iley said.

but area Coun. Ge­orge Cha­hal said he’d rather see the money pro­posed for the fix spent on some­thing else within the com­mu­nity.

“I’m not in favour of spend­ing an­other ad­di­tional $180,000 on fix­ing some­thing that was done wrong, or there was a mis­take. I think there are bet­ter uses of that money,” he said.

at mon­day’s meet­ing, Cha­hal suc­cess­fully pitched hav­ing his of­fice and the mayor’s of­fice be a part of fu­ture con­ver­sa­tions con­cern­ing the art­work.

“I think that we can prob­a­bly all agree on one im­por­tant prin­ci­ple of pub­lic art — it shouldn’t hurt peo­ple,” mayor Na­heed Nen­shi told re­porters.

“It’s very clear that that spot in front of the Ge­n­e­sis Cen­tre is a spot de­signed for pub­lic art and it does need pub­lic art. Whether spend­ing that money on this par­tic­u­lar piece, so that it can be in­stalled in that spot, makes sense, is some­thing I’d like to ques­tion a bit more.”

The $180,000 fix for Wish­ing Well re­mains on a list of art projects sus­pended un­til next year, while the city’s pub­lic art pol­icy is re­viewed. Coun­cil voted in favour mon­day of tak­ing two projects off that list — the art­work for the an­der­son Pedes­trian bridge in Ward 11 and for the 5 st. un­der­pass down­town.

Post­media file


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