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Santa Monica City Council Axes Art Project in New Parking Structure

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


Rusty's Surf

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

September 16, 2013 -- A colorful art installation depicting paint dripping from the top of the rebuilt Parking Structure 6 in Downtown Santa Monica has been scrapped after coming in at almost double the allotted budget.

The City Council voted last Tuesday to approve staff's plans to go with a simple paint job meant to distinguish the building while staying within the $125,000 originally budgeted for constructing and installing the proposed work by artist Mike Ross.

Staff had hoped that the “whimsical, brightly-colored ‘paint drip’ sculpture” would have “enlivened” the wall of the structure that faces the alley behind Second Street, a thoroughfare for pedestrians visiting the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place.

Rendering of proposed installation for Parking Structure 6 (courtesy the City of Santa Monica)

“I think the situation is very disappointing to all of us,” said Jessica Cusick, the City's director of Cultural Affairs.

She added that the project would have been the artist's second major installation work, calling the decision to go with him “a leap of faith” that was based on what staff considered to be “a really great concept.”

Cusick said that the artist originally thought that he could have outsourced the construction of the project to a company that specializes in fiberglass construction and then replicate the method in his own studio at a cheaper cost.

“We were not willing to accept that approach,” Cusick said.

She told The Lookout Monday that the City wanted to make sure that the fiberglass sculpture would be prepared by a professional manufacturer.

After the artist worked extensively on alternative methods, the project still proved unfeasible, Cusick said.

“We thought we could realize it,” she said.

The set back didn't cost the City anything because the project never got past its preliminary stages, Cusick told The Lookout Monday

Councilmember Ted Winterer asked Cusick if it wouldn't be possible to simply raise the amount of money allocated to the project, since it is paid for with public funds.

“The budget for the public art projects are set before the artists even get involved,” Cusick said. “They are actually given a set budget to design to.”

In the case of this project, given the additional amount of money required, Cusick didn't think giving the project more money was the prudent course of action.

“If it were just a small amount of money,” she said, it might have been possible.

The new 11-level Parking Structure Six, with 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail and space for more than 700 cars, 90 bicycles in racks, 19 motorcycles, will open early next year.

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