Purchasing existing public art instead of a seeking comission

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We have a percent of art requirement for new University building projects. Instead of commissioning public art, has anyone purchased existing art pieces? Some of the our building projects have a small amount allocated for public art (example $4,000). We also have a project that has a budget of around $30,000. Could anyone suggest a source for this type of artwork in the Minnesota/Dakota region? Also, what is the best way to seek proposals for commissioned projects? Thank you for your help. --jzak

-- John C. Zak (jzak@mail.crk.umn.edu), February 13, 1998


In response to your enquiry for purchasing existing art pieces for a publc space: Surely the point of public art is that it is site specific, that it relates to the site itself and the users of the space in which it is situated. In simply purchasing a piece that is unrelated there is a danger of alienating the public for whom the piece is intended.

To seek proposals: Lanunch a competition!!!

-- Suzanna Tabor (Suz.Tabor@btinternet.com), May 03, 1998.

Right! I managed a design competition as a test case for a subway on a budget of less than $30,000. (management, competition costs and artist work all in.) Start with a "call for expressions of interest" from artists and provide a clear description of what you are looking for, what the opportunities and restrictions are and how you intend to proceed. The more thorough the information, the better. Always consider issues of how the art will be built/fabricated and installed. If your facility is union operated, then you must understand in advance how the art will be installed. Who and how will it be cared for? Lots of questions, always answers. Commissioning public art is a great way to engage in the cultural life of your community.

-- Karen Mills, Public Art Mgmt. (dmills@attcanada.net), November 25, 1998.

The State of Colorado has such a program in place. They have for example purchased paintings and/or prints to install in public buildings. You might write a brief inquiry to Roberta Kaserman, Director, Art In Public Places Program, Colorado Council for the Arts, 750 Pennsylvania St. Denver, CO 80203.

-- Patricia Buck (cauldron@ecentral.com), February 14, 1999.

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