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.