Congratulations to Petaluma’s Public Art Committee. After more than two years, the board tasked with creating public art in the city has finally settled on an artist to craft the Water Street art project.
Long identified as a prime spot for a major art installation, the Water Street promenade behind the shops on Petaluma Boulevard would be enhanced by an iconic work by a renowned artist. For Petaluma, that artist will be Brian Goggin, a San Francisco-based artist known for his whimsical installations.
If you have ever flown into Sacramento’s airport, the giant towers made out of vintage suitcases in the baggage claim area are his project.
Goggin beat out Petaluma’s David Best, known for his elaborate temples and art cars at the Burning Man festival. The committee must have seen something special in Goggin and we hope that he can fulfill his vision for Water Street.
But the committee mustn’t celebrate the selection of the artist for too long. After all, this is only the beginning of the process.
The public art fund, which sits at $150,000, comes from developers who pay fees instead of installing their own public art. In the case of the Deer Creek shopping center, the developers decided to add their own art, which resulted in several unique pieces adorning that public space.
The Water Street project is funded mostly from developers of the Target shopping center, which did not install public art on the property.
The committee’s first attempt to find a suitable piece for Water Street was a disaster. Dozens of artists submitted proposals and the four finalists were so underwhelming that the committee scrapped the approach entirely and launched a new search.
This time around, the committee instead interviewed artists without having a clear idea of what the art project will become. This seems to be the right approach as it has yielded a capable artist in Goggin and a blank canvas at Water Street.
Now for the hard part. The artist, in collaboration with the committee and the public, must come up with a timeless design for an artwork worthy of such a prominent public space. Once the concept is agreed upon, then there is the construction and installation of the piece.
Knowing how long the committee took to select the artist, we don’t expect the next phase will go quickly. The committee has $150,000 to spend on this piece, enough to commission a pretty extraordinary work of art.
The Public Art Committee should listen to the public and work with the artist to create something lasting that Petaluma can be proud of for generations.