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City rethinking roundabout art

Council members call for more public input for project in Newhall

Posted: September 11, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 11, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Construction continues on the roundabout on Main Street in Newhall on Tuesday. But what will go in the middle of the traffic circle is in question after public outcry over the two art finalists city arts commissioners have said they will choose between. Photo by Dan Watson.

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Santa Clarita City Council members said Tuesday they want the public to have more opportunities to weigh in before deciding what to put in the center of the Newhall roundabout.

The project now heads back to the city Arts Commission, which will work with city staffto develop a survey where people can weigh in on what they would like to see accompany the roundabout.

Members of the city Arts Commission whittled a selection of artist proposals down to two finalists: Michael Clapper’s “Western Reel,” a large circular film strip meant to mark Santa Clarita’s film heritage, and Michael Duffy’s “Facing the Sun, Facing the Future,” a dome structure lit with programmed lights that is meant to be reminiscent of a traditional house of the Tataviam people.

But council members acknowledged they had heard from many who were dissatisfied with both proposals.
Arts Commission Chairman John Dow was among them.

“Several commissioners, including myself, are not happy with the results,” Dow said.

Dow said he would like to see the project sent back to the Arts Commission for further review but also said he was pleased that members of the public were so vested in a public art matter.

Councilman TimBen Boydston said he did not think the council should assume the public wants an art piece at all.

“Why don’t we ask the people, ‘Would you like an oak tree there, would you like a fountain there, would you like an art piece there?’” Boydston said.

Mayor Bob Kellar made a motion to direct the Arts Commission to seek out artists to build an art piece involving Western movie star William S. Hart.

Kellar conducted a straw poll of attendees at Tuesday’s meeting where almost half the people in attendance raised their hands when Kellar asked who wanted to see such an art piece.

In the end, all council members said they think the public should be given a greater opportunity to weigh in on the art project
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