Discussion over plans to install a mosaic sculpture in Peninsula Beach Park raised questions about whose art should be displayed on public property.
Boyne City Main Street Executive Director Kelsie King-Duff presented the plan to the Boyne City Commission on Tuesday July 25 and requested approval of the proposed location of the sculpture.
“This has been in the works for some time,” said King-Duff…. “We’ve talked about getting a mosaic sculpture somewhere in the Main Street District.
She added, “The actual artwork would be donated by the artist that the design committee has been working with.”
The Boyne City Main Street Board recently approved the recommendation to have a work of art installed in the park but the matter had to be OK’d by the Boyne City Commission.
The Boyne City Planning Department helped to determine which part of the park would be best for the sculpture since much of the park is not located in the Main Street District.
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said the original location was to be near the marina but it was decided potential issues could arise from the marina’s expansion.
“If the commission gives its blessing to this location, the parties will go forward and seek to secure the additional funding to make this project a reality,” he said.
Boyne City Commissioner Hugh Conklin asked for information about the artist.
King-Duff said she did not have any.
“I find this much more favorable than Veterans Park,” said Conklin.
Main Street budgeted $2,000 for the sculpture but more fundraising will need to be done in order to fund the installation of the piece.
“I’m not real excited about it,” said Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom… “I asked the last time this came up—and, Kelsie, you weren’t here then—to have more information about the artist, and she claimed she did a lot of different pieces and mosaics, works, in other cities. I have not found anything on the internet. I wanted to have some background, some information.”
She added, “My feeling is, if Main Street has $2,000 to spend—and then some, which, it sounds like it’s going to be more than that—that the local artists have been cut out of the whole scenario of having the opportunity to maybe create something for Boyne City.”
Sansom said it would be nicer to put the word out to local artists and have them create works for the community.
“This sculpture doesn’t do a whole lot for me,” she said. “It blocks view. It’s just a wall. And I hate to be real critical but the subject matter is not akin to Boyne City. It’s just Michigan in general. This could go anywhere in the state.”
Sansom added, “I’m not sure what the motivation is for this particular work of art for any location in Boyne City in our public artists.”
King-Duff said there are numerous pieces of art in Boyne City from both local and Michigan artists.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that Main Street’s not supporting local artists whatsoever,” she added.
Sansom said she didn’t say Main Street wasn’t supporting local artists but that in this case she wanted to know why the art wasn’t coming from a local.
King-Duff also said the question at hand was not whether you like the artwork but whether the city commission approved of the location.
“I look at it this way, a piece of so-called art—it is in the eye of the beholder; some people maybe really love it, other people don’t—I just think that if it’s going to be something that’s established permanently that it should be something that the whole community would like to see … and I’m not sure that that’s the case. Maybe it is. Maybe I’m wrong.”
Conklin asked if this was a time when perhaps the city should have a policy on public art.
“I think there’s a lot more nuances here,” said Cain. “And I hate to see groups drawing battle lines or picking sides.”
He added that he believes many of the elements of the artwork are appropriate for Boyne City.
A motion to approve the location of the sculpture was approved by a vote of 4-1. Sansom was the lone “no” vote.