Update: Public Art Commission initiates process to remove Midtown Poetry Wall from art collection | News


Editor’s note: The first report has been current following the General public Artwork Fee conference on June 16:

The Community Artwork Fee voted unanimously on Thursday night to start the procedure to take away the Midtown Poetry Wall from Palo Alto’s permanent community art selection.

The poetry wall, a sequence of 6 painted murals at 2605 Middlefield Highway in Palo Alto’s Midtown community, is in will need of mend, and town personnel had advisable the wall be “deaccessioned,” which indicates the murals would be repaired as temporary artwork but could ultimately be ruined.

The fee also accredited as portion of the motion by Commissioner Ben Miyaji to have staff supply an “Option C” in addition to two proposals for briefly restoring the wall. That possibility would search at dialogue with the local community to probably replace the Poetry Wall with an additional short-term artwork set up.

The commission’s vote to initiate the deaccession course of action begins the authorized clock by which staff have to give the public and stakeholders 90 times to be notified and post comments. In Oct, the commission will explore and vote on no matter whether to formally clear away the murals from the city’s selection and designate them as momentary art. Repairs would start off to refurbish the murals.

Relying on the strategy of maintenance, the murals could final a further two to 10 a long time, offering the neighborhood time to examine what they want to see at the internet site if they want a different mural, Elise DeMarzo, community artwork application director, mentioned.

Staff members was alerted by the building’s operator that the murals have been broken and they needed to see them refurbished or have a little something else place in their spot. The property operator continues to be fully commited to enabling the wall to attribute an art show, DeMarzo stated.

Staff members claimed in a report that the murals must be deaccessioned because routine maintenance is infeasible in the extensive expression.

The overall value to repair service the poetry wall mural would be $23,120 to $28,530, in accordance to the staff members report.

“Thinking of the fundamental difficulties with the internet site and results offered in the condition stories by art conservation professionals, the ongoing impression of a high diploma of ultraviolet exposure and significant frequent fees to sustain the mural in the long run, the workers will suggest that commissioners initiate deaccession proceedings as outlined in the City’s Deaccession of Artwork Policy prior to restoring the murals as a short term artwork,” they wrote.

Inhabitants reported the poetry wall is the only one particular of its type in the metropolis and is a person of handful of parts of artwork in the Midtown retail space, and they want it preserved.

“Midtown constantly seems to be the weak stepchild of the city in conditions of funding,” claimed Annette Glanckopf, a longtime Midtown People Association leader who opposes deaccession. She mentioned the city’s investments in numerous murals and artworks positioned in regions this kind of as California Avenue.

“We you should not have a poetry wall anyplace in the town. Midtown is an eclectic community. This is a special piece of artwork, and the concept was exclusive. It is incredibly effortless to paint above it if it is really not formal any longer,” Glanckopf mentioned.

The 6 murals on the poetry wall each and every consist of a quick poem stenciled on to a distinctive history painted on the south-going through exterior wall of the Walgreens setting up at Midtown Browsing centre. In 2002, the General public Artwork Fee and the Midtown People Association shaped an artwork committee with community poet Elizabeth Biller Chapman and released a community poetry competitiveness for people residing, operating or attending college in Palo Alto and Stanford.

Ron LeBlanc, Amelia Saliba Extensive, Elizabeth Ray Mittmann, Liz Cowie, Sharon Olson and Janice Dabney had been the six finalists decided on out of the far more than 100 contestants to have their poems, which are 30 words or significantly less and pay back tribute to the neighborhood, put on the wall. Initially-put finalist LeBlanc received $250, and the next-put winners received $100 just about every.

The preliminary undertaking was supposed as a short-term screen of the five next-position poems, which were to be printed on vinyl substance and exhibited for six months. LeBlanc’s very first-position poem was to be painted as a mural thereafter, in accordance to the workers report.

But the vinyl panels ended up identified to be far too highly-priced, with bids in between $13,000 to $15,000. The commission resolved to paint all six poem murals straight onto the 120-foot by 6-foot wall in 2003, in accordance to the personnel report.

By 2010, having said that, the murals appeared to be in lousy over-all affliction with in depth parts of paint discoloration, blanching and fading, in accordance to the staff report. The metropolis hired a contractor to repaint the murals for $10,135 in 2012.

The restorations failed to very last, even so.

In 2021, the town employed Preservation Arts, a Bay Space-based mostly high-quality art conservation specialist, to evaluate the murals. The expert identified the murals’ latex paint and coating act as a polymer “film,” avoiding drinking water evaporation in the wall, which prompted drinking water injury. The murals also experienced significant UV-light-weight damage.

“An intensive conservation therapy would be essential to stabilize and restore the murals, nonetheless, cure are not able to avoid future cracking, blistering, and paint decline in new places, and challenges are likely to be ongoing,” the Preservation Arts evaluation famous.

The h2o problem should be resolved in the wall prior to conservation procedure is carried out, normally it is possible the murals will want routine maintenance just about every couple decades to repair service new regions of damage, in accordance to the evaluation.

Stabilizing, cleansing, and visually repairing the murals ended up estimated to value $12,635 to $13,650.

The commissioners held a particular meeting on Nov. 4, all through which they examined the Preservation Arts condition report, reviewed money dedicated to the upkeep of poetry wall murals in between 2003 and 2021 and took into thought general public opinions. Workers reported that the metropolis has invested $19,465 on the task, commencing with the money prizes to the poets and for all repairs and assessments.

In their report, town employees concluded that the only proper way to commence with repairing the murals would be to absolutely take out them and stabilize/key the wall at a cost estimate of $10,580. The town would then have two solutions: to wholly reproduce the poetry wall by repainting the murals (charge estimates selection: $14,957 to $17,950), with an envisioned everyday living cycle of 7 to 10 decades or reproduce the murals on adhesive aluminum at a value estimate of $12,540, with an expected daily life cycle of two to a few a long time.

Personnel would return to the fee to request approval of funds for the copy of the poetry wall murals as short term artwork. Funds from the Funds Advancement Prepare Artwork in Community Sites would be used to recreate the murals.

DeMarzo said if the murals stay in the city’s selection of permanent art, the division could mend them by means of its fund, but performing so would use up most of the $30,000 maintenance price range they have for all initiatives during the overall yr.

“It really is seriously an accounting challenge,” Commissioner Hsinya Shen famous of the variance between making use of the Money Advancement Plan cash, which would not acquire from the maintenance funds.

The fee will return to the topic at its October assembly and could formally vote on the deaccession proposal.


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