Group Weighs in on Garage Art Project

Related Story

COLUMBIA - A committee responsible for selecting artists for the Percent for Art Program evaluated a pool of Missouri artists on Tuesday for an art project for the new Short Street Parking Garage.  The goal of the meeting was to decide three finalists to be presented to the city council from almost 30 artists.

There was disagreement on the committee about the status of the artist pool.  One member described the pool as "mediocre" and said many of the artists would not be "appropriate" for the site.  A few others chimed in with similar remarks.  However, other members said there were enough strong artists to come up with three finalists.

The manager for the Office of Cultural Affairs, Chris Stevens, said there are a couple factors that contributed to the outcome of this artist pool.  He said in total, the artist gets $60,000 for the project and that is a pretty low number.  He also said the project is limited to Missouri artists so there aren't as many artists to choose from.

Stevens said the committee has been under a lot of scrutiny following the Fifth street and Walnut street parking garage.  He said now this committee and its actions are "under a microscope."  Stevens said he wants to get the designs from the finalists out to the public so people can weigh in on the designs.  He said he plans to use social media and the city's website to put the designs online.  There will also be mock-ups of the designs available for people to check out at Columbia's City Hall.

The Percent For Art program was started in 1997.  Under the program, one percent of a public project's budget is dedicated to an art endeavor for the site if it has a budget over one million dollars. 

Short Street Garage will be part of a complex with a hotel, retail spaces , office spaces and condominiums.  It was previously the site of the Regency Hotel on Broadway.

If the committee selects three finalists, they will be presented to the City Council.  If the council approves of the finalists, the finalists will be rewarded $2,000 and will then come up with their design for the garage.  However, the group did discuss the possibility of opening up submission from artists around the nation if they could not find three suitable finalists.