City to see more mu­rals

Fayet­teville com­mis­sion OKs con­tract with Justkids

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - STACY RYBURN

FAYET­TEVILLE — The same folks who brought a gi­ant owl to the side of a de­crepit build­ing off the square, catch­ing eyes and prompt­ing nu­mer­ous self­ies, will soon cre­ate five more mu­rals or in­stal­la­tions around town.

The Ad­ver­tis­ing and Pro­mo­tion Com­mis­sion agreed Wed­nes­day to a con­tract with Justkids, a pub­lic art pro­duc­tion com­pany most no­tably as­so­ci­ated with the Un­ex­pected Project in Fort Smith. The two-year en­deavor pro­duced dozens of mu­rals and in­stal­la­tions in the city. Justkids also cu­rated the large owl painted on the side of the old Moun­tain Inn build­ing at Cen­ter Street and Col­lege Av­enue.

The gen­eral terms of the con­tract would have Justkids hire five artists, at least two of whom would be lo­cal, to

cre­ate five semi-per­ma­nent art­works in yet-to-be de­ter­mined lo­ca­tions. The artists would work on the pieces all at once from Aug. 17-27, lead­ing up to the Roots Fes­ti­val.

Justkids will co­or­di­nate, or­ga­nize and su­per­vise the pro­duc­tion of the art. Of­fi­cials with Ex­pe­ri­ence Fayet­teville, the city’s tourism bureau, will work with Justkids and prop­erty own­ers to de­ter­mine where the pieces will go. Ex­pe­ri­ence Fayet­teville also will find a ho­tel to put up the outof-town artists.

In 2015, the com­mis­sion set aside $100,000 for a pub­lic art ini­tia­tive. The agree­ment com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved Wed­nes­day would pay Justkids $73,184, al­though the con­tract still has to be fi­nal­ized, said the com­mis­sion’s at­tor­ney Vince Chadick.

“I don’t an­tic­i­pate that in their fi­nal pro­posal the con­tract or any­thing would ma­te­ri­ally change,” he said. “If it did, we would have to alert (ev­ery­one), but I wouldn’t ex­pect that.”

The money from the con­tract will go to Justkids, who in turn will pay the artists. Chadick said the com­mis­sion’s by­laws didn’t re­quire a pub­lic bid­ding process.

Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Molly Rawn said she wanted to re­spect the com­mis­sion’s 2015 wishes, and Justkids came highly rec­om­mended from col­leagues in Fort Smith. The com­mis­sion hired Rawn as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor last sum­mer. The $100,000 was set aside for the 2016 bud­get but stayed in the com­mis­sion’s cof­fers among staff and per­son­nel changes.

Rawn said she felt us­ing the money for some­thing else, such as Town Cen­ter im­prove­ments, would have been in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

“It wouldn’t be in keep­ing with the spirit of what the com­mis­sion wanted,” she said.

Com­mis­sioner Matt Behrend said he ap­pre­ci­ated the pop-up art as­pect of the project and how pro­mo­tion would tie into the Roots Fes­ti­val.

“I’m happy to see this off the ground and in this phase. That’s kind of ex­cit­ing,” he said. “We had that con­ver­sa­tion, what, two or three years ago? It was ex­cit­ing then and now it’s all com­ing to fruition. That’s kind of a cool thing to see hap­pen.”

Justkids will co­or­di­nate, or­ga­nize and su­per­vise the pro­duc­tion of the art.

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