Friday, April 17, 2009


The Arts & Culture Commission met last night with a one-item agenda -- "Discussion of Arts and Culture Commission Report to City Council Regarding 90-day Council Directive of a Pasadena Center Operating Company Amended Artist Selection Process."

Chair Dale Oliver helmed a mostly forward-moving discussion about whether to present a one-part or a two-part recommendation back to City Council; the original proposal alone, or a Part A/Part B. Oliver, acting on the consensus from the group's previous meeting, had drafted a two-option proposal, re-recommending in very strong terms the original Kuhn and Oppenheim pieces but adding an "if you still won't go for it" contingency -- that the remaining $630,000 be spent on interior -- hardly public -- art.

The Commissioners in attendance (only six of nine were present) had a meticulous discussion about what was at risk if they returned with the same recommendation they'd submitted back in January; however, Patrick Conyers observed that "it wouldn't be the same recommendation -- there has been more evaluation and more input by the public" and this extended process has only served to strengthen the Commission's resolve.

In the end, the Arts & Culture Commission decided to hold their ground, defending the last three years of diligent planning, selecting and evaluating, and will send their support of "Lightfield" and "Thinking Caps" back to City Council, eliminating the interior artwork option.

In expressing his belief that the Convention Center plaza deserves "monumental works of art," Oliver exhorted the community to demonstrate their support of the artworks to City Council when the moment arrives. He can rest assured that we will.


  1. Great! Another nail in the coffin of the Arts Commission. Sticking by your guns is great, unless you're unarmed.

    Are these people really that stupid? They were TOLD OUTRIGHT by the City Council to come up with an alternative and didn't do that.

    Best scenario is the City Council takes three months and twelve meetings to make a decision. Or make different decisions multiple times before going with a "no public art" option and using the money to backfill holes in the city budget.


  2. Congratulations! I look forward to seeing the work installed.

  3. Terry LeMoncheck, Pasadena Arts CouncilApril 19, 2009 at 2:35 PM

    Mike: The Arts & Culture Commission was asked by City Council to consider an "amended artist selection process" but it was explicit that the works by Kuhn and Oppenheim were still on the table. One person's "stupid" is another person's "principled."

  4. Mike, I see you have been to or have seen a few City Council meetings. Excellent summary.

  5. Actually, it was explicit to me who was watching that the amended selection process would lead to alternatives to the hats and light sticks and use local artists.

    Here's my prediction: The mayor will be moderate. Madison will try to make the arts people feel like they're being kissed as he bends them over. Holden will try to find a way to make everyone happy. Gordo and Haderlein will be very unhappy. Robinson will not be happy with Arts Commission but won't be strident about it.

    At some point in the discussion, someone on the Council will ask the Arts Commission what part of alternative they didn't understand and someone else will suggest either disbanding the commission or firing all the members and starting over with people who can understand a simple direction.

    There is no "principle" to be followed when the people in charge tell their subordinates what to do and the subordinates don't so it.

    Beyond the commission politics, when push comes to shove, it will be very difficult to find more than a handful of Pasadena residents who would actually welcome the hats or the light sticks on the civic center plaza, especially when they are being paid for out of the public purse.