The first meeting of Wilton Manors’ public art advisory committee yielded a lot of ideas and attendees expressing a desire to bring the city’s art scene into focus.
“We have the ability to do some awesome things,” said Tom Rossetti, owner of the Rossetti Fine Art Gallery on Wilton Drive.
The meeting, held Nov. 16 at Art Gallery 21, was led by resident and Art Gallery 21 co-founder Constance Ruppender and Todd DeJesus, the city’s special projects and grants manager.
“We’re not making any decisions. This is preliminary,” said DeJesus. Ruppender asked that those who want to join the committee should give a commitment of 12 months or more.
Attendees discussed possible ways to fund art, what kind of art should be created, and locations to place art. One man suggested something big like the world-famous Bean in Chicago. One woman suggested a sculpture garden at Rachel Richardson Park. Art in city hall and other public buildings was another.
“Do we just want one [piece of big art] or lots of art?” asked Ruppender. She also asked that those interested in joining the committee give at least a 12-month commitment. She compared the committee to a bus which needs the right people to drive it and make it successful.
In addition to visual art, such as murals, smaller paintings, decorating utility boxes, and sculptures, performance art and film were also brought up as one type of art the committee should be fostering and promoting.
To pay for the art, grants, loans, fundraisers, and solicitation of donations were ideas brought up. One attendee suggested a paid tour of beautiful and well-manicured backyard gardens in the city to raise money. Other fundraiser suggestions included art auction, and crowdsourcing.
Sal Torre, president of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors, suggested that the Wilton Drive Improvement District, which was established to generate additional tax revenue to improve the street, might also be a source of funding.
Impact fees were also discussed. But impact fees aren’t an option right now, said DeJesus. The city commission wants the committee to be separate from the city so that it can be more efficient and effective. If the city were to institute impact fees and use that money to fund public art, the committee would have to be subject to the Sunshine Law and other state and city regulations.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t get them to change their minds,” Ruppender said. “That could be a campaign issue. Do you support public art?”