Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Public Art: A cry from the heart.


Luminescent Flora by Deanne Sabeck.

The Encinitas City Council approved two of Deanne Sabeck's glass and metal sculptures in a meeting at the beginning of April. One will go at the entrance to Oakcrest Park at 1219 Encinitas Blvd and the other at the southeast corner of Newcastle Avenue and Liverpool Drive in Cardiff by the Sea, across the street from the Cardiff Library. Both of these works, that were presented anonymously to the public, got very high ratings. Another sculpture by Peter Mitten was accepted for placement at the new Pacific View Arts Center that will open later this year as well as Bunny Serenade by Adrian Litman for the pad at Little Oaks Equestrian Park in Olivenhain on Lone Jack Road. 

But two other sites will remain empty. The Encinitas Commission for Arts and Culture chose other art works for these sites taking into consideration the public comments and ratings, but the council deemed to decide for what might be personal reasons, that these artists were not suitable, ignoring the recommendation of their professional body of experts.

This is not an isolated problem. Cities with no art master plans and cities with no coherent public art plan often run into divided opinions about how art in the public realm should be chosen and funded. We have seen examples of how major works of art by renowned creators are turned away by  cautious politicians who are out of their league when judging art. The latest fiasco was in Del Mar when the Isamu Noguchi’s sculpture worth half a million dollars was rejected.

Buying, renting and accepting donated art works is a complicated puzzle. This entails making sure that the artists are qualified, that the proposed work is appropriate, and that the budget is acceptable.  Outreach to the public for preference and advice of experts has to be considered. Contracts have to be drawn up and having the ability to work with artists and architects for completing the creation, siting the work, and then lighting it and maintaining it are all considerations. Remembering that art can be vandalized plays a part in the decision.  The County and City of San Diego both have mandates for including a percentage of new construction and larger renovation budgets for art. But working with non-profits to purchase works is also an option.

There are solid public art policies already created by other major cities so there is no real need to re-invent the wheel in for public art. Luckily, we now have a new San Diego County Arts and Culture Commission which has already started to make recommendations on revising the public art policy county wide.  Hopefully those new policies will trickle down and be seen to be best practices by all the cities in our county.

Those of us in the arts spend all of our lives looking at art and have a finely honed sense of authenticity. That expertise is power and can be used for the good of the community. We listen to health authorities and so please, in the arts, acknowledge that expertise in the same way. 

We are also respectful of the efforts of artists who are an extremely important resource for our communities. They not only bring aesthetic beauty and challenging concepts, but economic growth and prosperity into our lives.  

Finally, we are not opposed to the public having input on public art for their community. But this needs to be at the beginning of the process so that it can be incorporated in the call for artists proposals. Let the art professional make the final selections and set policy.


  1. jeffery laudenslagerApril 23, 2024 at 9:28 AM

    This is an important and balanced article. Thank you Patricia. Encinitas is lucky to have accomplished and dedicated art supporters and artists in our community who work consistently to promote its cultural development. That said, our City Council and Arts Commission need to access and utilize that resource more effectively.
    Some of the staff administering our arts programs are not up to the task of selecting and directing the temporary sculpture program. The first year was never realized due to incompetence and the second year's efforts were badly planned, under funded and is still incomplete.
    My suggestions: capitalize on the talent we have within our community to guide future projects. Especially in the arena of "public" art, new direction and directors are absolutely required. The Encinitas Commission for Arts and Culture does some things well, but unfortunately it lacks the experience and vision to administer the current Public Arts program.
    Talented and experienced artists and advocates are here in our community. Use their professional experience, ask them questions and listen enthusiastically.
    Mayor Tony Kranz and Council, we are here for you. Just ask.


  2. Excellent point: there are many experts that can be called on to make this process run smoothly. Not only artists that have been involved in similar programs but arts administrator that are responsible for public art. We are stronger together and many are here to help.

  3. Why were some artists not deemed suitable, do you know?


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