Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Link to Orlando Sentinel Article

The public art controversy I have written on recently is an issue I never intended to get involved in. In fact, I have no background with government-funded public art.
But if you read the background to the story of the Orange County Medical Examiners building, you might understand why I feel moved to speak up on this issue. This is written by Elizabeth Maupin of the Orlando Sentinel.
whats new: Last Light o/c 18x24

Friday, September 25, 2009

Waste? Not

Yesterday, I spoke at the Orange County FL Commission meeting in defense of the arts funding here in the county. It's a tough time for all the arts. Money is hard to find in private and public donations.

Our new Orange County Medical Examiners building is currently being completed. It replaces the cramped and obsolete facility near my downtown neighborhood. Artwork was budgeted for the building and an artist was chosen from 150 that applied for the commission. More background on this is in my most previous post.

Since last week the art expenditure was omitted from the budget in hopes that donated art or loaned art could be found. One commissioner termed the money set aside to be a waste of taxpayer dollars. I find that insulting since as a gallery represented painter, I don't consider what I create "waste". And I doubt the chosen artist feels that way either. I wanted to know why, if an artist or collector is asked to donate for the building, why isn't the carpet contractor or the landscaper.

This has really struck a nerve with me since throughout my career I have listened to the argument that donating work for publicity or public exposure will bring later sales. I donate if it's a cause I believe in or it is for someone who needs the benefits of that art worse than I.

It's time professional artists are treated with the same regard as any other professional when it comes to compensation. Sometimes you have to say "show me the money".

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Public Art Project in Jeopardy

I'm posting a letter here that I am sending to the Orange Co FL Board of County Commissioners due to a discussion at last Thursday's meeting of withdrawing budgeted art funding for the new Orange Co Medical Examiners building. Two of the commissioners brought up their concern for spending money on art for the facility in spite of the building being substantially under budget and the artist winning a competition for the job having been notified. The press was invited by one of the two commissioners and the contract for $55,000 of art (1/3 or 1%overall budget) was presented as a boondoggle of taxpayers money. Thats red meat for the fiscal hawks so further criticism will probably ensue. I'm hoping the artists of the area will register their displeasure with this and stand up for public art as an important statement of our values.

Dear Mayor Crotty and Commissioners:
My name is Stephen Bach and I am a free lance artist working from the McRae Art Studios in Winter Park. I have been a resident of Orange Co for 50 years this month.
I am writing in regard to the art acquisition budget for the Orange County Medical Examiners Building. I am asking that the money be retained for the project as planned and the county not pursue loaned, donated or student work.

As an artist, we are asked to donate work and time to numerous charities every year. Winter Park Library, Maitland Art Center, Cancer fundraising, school benefits, we contribute frequently though tax code allows no deductions for those donations. While it is satisfying to give back we also have to sell our work to survive. My monthly income is solely based on what I have sold. No one else pays my health insurance, my studio costs or travel bills

The discussion of funding for the Medical Examiners building was brought up at the Sept 15th County Commission meeting where it was suggested by Commissioners Fernandez and Boyd that the money could be better spent in the taxpayers name by reverting to general funds. It was further suggested that the possibility of donated or loaned work be looked into or young emerging artists work be featured. County figures say the building is nearly 1.5 million dollars under budget and the expenditure is 1/3rd of 1% total funding.

When this art project was put out for competition, the notice was clear that this was a sensitive assignment and in reading the letter sent to the applying artists, the goal was to secure artwork to fit a public structure that “will embrace grieving families in a calming and soothing atmosphere as they come to deal with the passing of a family member”.
Based on this description, I would suggest this is not a job that can allow found art that can be adapted. In fact my opinion is if there was only one job that public art should be specifically commissioned, this would be it.

I am not complaining that an out of state artist won the contract for the project. I am saying it is inappropriate first to withdraw the award and secondly, a fool’s task to look for a cheap way of fulfilling the goals of a sensitive project such as this. I also think it made a disappointing statement on the perceived value of those in this community, your constituents, who work in the art profession. If there was a need to save $55,000, perhaps that amount could have been cut from the overall building budget when the job was put out to bid. For the artist to bear the whole cut or a huge percentage of the money seems unfair especially in light of the job being so far under budget.

I hope the Commission will take these points to heart and leave in place the funding for art acquisition - to this project and future ones. I also look forward to clarification and release of information regarding county ordinance as it pertains to funding for public art.
Thank you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Winter Park Concours Painting

The Winter Park Concours d'Elegance painting is finished and out the door for photographing. The image will be used for the poster and other promotional tools. The accompanying image shows the finished piece. It is good to see it gone though it was satisfying to work on. I'm back on the landscape beat now. Two shows coming and the first is in less than two weeks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cut Chop Rebuild

It's time for this year's poster image for the Winter Park Concours d'Elegance. I have provided the oil painting for the poster for 5 or 6 years now. It's got me worried I'm priced too cheap.
Actually its a fun project and it gets me out of my landscape painting box for a week or so.

This year I had an idea come to me almost immediately. Usually there is danger in that. But I let it rest for a couple of days while I considered it. Hey, I thought it still worked, and the client liked it - so off we go.

I wanted a new vantage point rather than the same view of the outside of a car. The featured marque this year is Mercedes Benz and in particular a new Mercedes SLR model. I wanted to show the heritage of the old 1955 300SL Gullwing Mercedes along with the new scissor door model SLR. So I put together some photos I had taken of the Gullwing at Amelia Island FL early this year, using a couple of spy shots of the new SLR and some shots of the local landmark, Knowles Chapel at Rollins College here in Winter Park FL.

Usually lots of sketching is involved but with Photoshop I cut and pasted everything together to make the composition. Here are the beginnings of the project. The photos are assembled and composed on Photoshop, the sketch projected and drawn on canvas and the first paint applied. I'll post more progress as it happens.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Small Works

Paintings are starting to come together in the studio but not as fast as I wish. Often the small works generate the inspiration for large ones. This image has some potential.

Tree Line 12 x 12 oil