Councilmembers of Pasadena found themselves in a complicated position Monday night, having to decide whether to allocate funds for a Gateway project, located at the end of the 110 freeway. The project, a large installation by the artist Alice Aycock, had already been recommended by the Art & Culture Commission.
By Garrett Rowlan
Following up on a meeting of March 26, the Council had a second sniff at the price-tagged 740K installation located in a decommissioned section of the PWP’s Glenarm Power Plant.
The optics, as several Councilmembers stated, weren’t right for approval. In a time of fiscal crisis for Pasadena, the allocation of massive amounts of money for the completion of the project didn’t stir much enthusiasm in the ranks of those present (Victor Gordo, District 5, was absent) . Only Mayor Terry Tornek expressed an aesthetic appreciation in the recommended work by Aycock, a mounting of swirls, twirls, and frozen fireworks, which would glow discreetly at night.
Nor was public comment favorable to the recommended project, either. Deemed not egalitarian by one—that is, not approachable by foot—and a distraction by another (though the Department of Transportation had no objection from the standpoint of distracted driving), it was further dismissed by Councilmember Andy Wilson as a “paste-on,” and by Councilmember Tyron Hampton has having “no public benefit.”
Only Councilmember Margaret McAustin, District 2, was in favor of the project, stating that this was the recommendation of a selection process that should be trusted. Financial issues aside, optics aside, McAustin’s option left unstated the corollary notion that to go against the careful sifting of many artists to reach a final choice was akin to saying “I don’t know art but I know what I like.”
To their credit, however, the councilmembers were still willing to think big. As Wilson stated, “We don’t often have the dry powder to execute something of this magnitude.”
In the end, the Council deferred any further decision.
In public commentary prior to the Council’s grasping of this issues, speakers referred to upcoming events: a Mental Health Day on May 19, a R.E.D. Friday day to salute veterans (T-shirts were distributed), and 20K that still remained to fund a trip by 75 drummers from Wilson Middle School to the Bay Area, lobbied for by their Principal, Kyle Douglas.
> Watch the entire Pasadena City Council meeting for Monday, April 16, 2018 (2 hr, 30 min, 53 sec.).
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