“Facing the Sun, Facing the Future”
Numerous complaints could prompt Santa Clarita City Council members to revisit their plans for an art piece in the center of the Newhall roundabout, which is under construction.
At the council’s first regular meeting after a summer break, a pair of residents, Dante Acosta and Duane Harte, who are both running for City Council seats next year, spoke about their own concerns, as well as what they had heard from the community.
The city was looking to spend around $45,000 for a piece of artwork that would be a centerpiece for the Newhall roundabout.
The Newhall Roundabout Art Project involves implementing a public art piece that will be the focal point at the intersection of Main Street, Newhall Avenue and Fifth Street. (The latter is being eliminated from the intersection.)
City officials touted the benefits at a recent groundbreaking, looking to allay concerns about the cost, appearance and traffic — during the roundabout’s six-month construction period and the flow once it’s completed.
“The roundabout will allow for smoother traffic flow, providing greater pedestrian connectivity between Main Street and Hart Park,” Kellar said at the July 23 groundbreaking for the project. “Additionally, it will provide a focal point to the southern entrance of Main Street with enhanced landscaping and a historical public art piece in the center of the roundabout.”
However, the feedback on the final two art pieces for the roundabout, which Acosta said were described as a “bug zapper and a worm” by Internet critics, have been roundly criticized.
City Council members have also heard the critiques of the choices.
“It will be on the next City Council agenda, and no decision has been made at this time on the time,” said city Spokeswoman Gail Ortiz.
“I’m sure you all (fellow council members) received the letters (of complaint) I had,” said Mayor Bob Kellar in response to a request by TimBen Boydston to put the selection of a piece of art back on the agenda.
City Councilwoman Marsha McLean seconded the request, with similar concerns.
Boydston suggested that council members provide guidance for the Arts Commission on a second go-round, and included his own suggestion of perhaps a tribute to the Western film history of the area, or a cowboy on horseback.
The final two choices were a sculpture of a film strip, and a Tataviam structure, which was an homage to the area’s Native American roots.
Michael Clapper’s “Western Reel” is a film strip sculpture commemorating Santa Clarita’s history of serving as a backlot for Western films, such as Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch in Newhall.
Artist M.L. Duffy said his piece “Facing the Sun, Facing the Future” is an adage to Santa Clarita’s past and future and draws its influences from Newhall’s first residents, the Tataviam indian tribe in 450 AD.
“We want residents to help us decide which iconic piece of art should be the centerpiece of Old Town Newhall’s roundabout project. This intersection will serve as a southern gateway into the community, so we want something that reflects our past, present and future,” said Mayor Bob Kellar.
Previously, the Arts Commission had been tasked with selecting a finalist by Oct. 8.