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Arts Commission names six semifinalists for Newhall roundabout art project

Posted: April 12, 2013 6:57 p.m.
Updated: April 12, 2013 6:57 p.m.

Passersby pause on the bridge Friday over the Bridgeport Marketplace pond, where the sculpture "Birds of Valencia" by Douwe Blumberg is displayed. The cast aluminum sculpture features 65 birds in flight and stands 17 feet tall.

A field of 72 interested artists was whittled down this week to six, one of whom will construct a public art piece to be displayed in the roundabout planned for Newhall.

Members of the Santa Clarita Arts Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the list of artists, according to commission Chairman John Dow.

The winning selection will be displayed in the center of the roundabout planned for the intersection of Main Street and Newhall Avenue in Newhall. City officials consider the planned roundabout to be the gateway to Santa Clarita’s arts and entertainment district.

Arts commissioners went through each of the 72 proposals and scored them individually on a scale of one to 20, with 20 being the highest possible score.

Commissioners considered a selection of each artist’s past works, examining whether the artist worked with durable materials and how his or her proposals would fit with the overall character of Newhall, according to city Arts and Events Administrator Phil Lantis.

All six semifinalists will receive a $500 stipend to develop a proposal for the roundabout art, Lantis said.
The top-scoring artist in the semifinalist balloting was former Santa Clarita Valley resident Douwe Blumberg, who also crafted the “Birds of Valencia” sculpture at Bridgeport Marketplace.

The city has budgeted $45,000 for the art work, but Dow said arts commissioners hope to increase the funds through private donations.

Blumberg received an average score of 18.6 out of 20 from the commissioners, 3.2 higher than the second-place artist, according to a city staff report.

Blumberg, 48, said Friday that he lived in the Santa Clarita Valley from 1984 to 2001 before moving to his current home in DeMossville, Ky.

“I have a feeling for it, for the character of the area,” Blumberg said of the Santa Clarita Valley. “It’s in my blood.”
The other semifinalists are Joshua Wiener, Riis Burwell, Mike Clapper, Susan Cooper and Matthew Duffy.

Aside from Blumberg, none of the semifinalists has crafted public artwork for Santa Clarita in the past, nor do they live locally, Lantis said.

The six artists will present their developed concepts to the Arts Commission on June 24. From there, two finalists will be named on July 11.

The proposals from those two finalists will then be made available for public comment online, Lantis said. Physical copies will also be located at Santa Clarita City Hall.

Community members will be able to vote for their favorite of the two finalists during that time, Lantis said.

The Arts Commission will deliver its recommendation and the results of the public-comment period to the Santa Clarita City Council in October for a vote.

Construction on the roundabout is expected to begin July 5 and take six to nine months to complete, according to the city.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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