Water fountains approved as art

DOWNEY - The City Council agreed Tuesday to amend the Art in Public Places ordinance to allow water features such as fountains and to open the program to a larger base of artists.On a unanimous vote, the Council agreed that fountains and sculptures incorporating water should be classified as art by the city. Qualifications for artists will also be relaxed. The amendments will "broaden the Art in Public Places program," said Councilman Mario Guerra, who introduced the proposal. "I'm frustrated that we don't have more art," Guerra told the Patriot. "Let's get this thing going. We need more art, not less." Since the Art in Public Places ordinance was adopted in 2005, only one piece of art has been erected, a bronze sphere outside a car wash business on Firestone Boulevard. Two others were recently approved: a sculpture of the Roman god Neptune that will stand outside a strip mall on Lakewood Boulevard, and a sculpture of John Gately Downey to stand at City Hall. The Art in Public Places program is funded by a 1 percent fee levied on new commercial, industrial and residential developments that have a total valuation of at least $500,000. (Residential projects must have at least four dwelling units to trigger the fee.) The developer can pay the 1 percent fee or choose to install the art themselves. As of this week, more than $350,000 had been collected for the arts program, Guerra said. Councilman David Gafin offered his support but stressed that new art with water must be artful with or without H20. "We don't know what the water situation will be like 50 years from now," he said. "Hopefully these art pieces will be around for a very long time." The revised ordinance will be brought back before the Council for final approval at a later date. -Eric Pierce, City Editor

********** Published: March 12, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 47