Meridian council divided over 'split corridor' art

Choosing a sculpture as part of a road project has proven to be difficult.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comJuly 21, 2013 

The Meridian City Council hit a snag last week trying to select an artist to create a $95,000 piece as part of the Meridian Road and Main Street makeover.

The city has space to install artwork on two sites along what it calls the "split corridor" - the southwest corner of Ada and Main streets and the southeast corner of Main and Fairview Avenue.

Artists were allowed to propose work for both sites or just one.

Earlier this year, the Meridian Arts Commission identified three finalists: Joseph Castle and Marty Lyon of Bellevue; Delia DeLapp of Boise; and C.J. Rench of Hood River, Ore.

The public had a chance last month to vote for its favorite artist, and DeLapp and Rench scored the most votes, with DeLapp leading Rench by about 3 percent. The public vote was just one factor in determining which artist gets the commission.

A citizen committee recommended selecting one of DeLapp's pieces and commissioning a smaller piece from Rench. But after reviewing the proposals, the Meridian Art Commission decided to recommend that the council go with Rench.

At its July 16 meeting, the council contemplated its options, with Mayor Tammy deWeerd pushing for DeLapp.

"I admire her as an artist. … This is a valuable piece of art that reflects our community," deWeerd said.

A motion to purchase one piece from DeLapp and one from Rench failed on a 3-1 vote.

Councilman Charlie Rountree said he was uncomfortable splitting the contract between the artists, when that is not what the city's proposal called for.

"I am hesitant we move forward. We are borderline getting ourselves into a whole bucket of worms with the way this is being handled," Rountree said.

Councilmen Keith Bird and David Zaremba agreed.

"My solution would be to start the process over," Zaremba said. "We need to keep our public processes in order. I wouldn't mind some additional submissions."

Councilman Brad Hoaglun voted to split the project.

The council decided to confer with its legal department about its options and resume the public art discussion at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 33 E. Broadway Ave.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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