Bowie looks to add splash of color with art expansion plan -- Gazette.Net



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Bowie will look a little more colorful over the next five years as the City Council unanimously adopted a plan that calls for the city to spend about $118,000 on public art projects across the city.

“It’s something that really gives us character,” Bowie Councilman Dennis Brady (At Large) said of the city’s art installments.

The plan was developed by the city’s art committee, a group of eight residents who advocate for and advise the council on art-related work.

“We’re very happy they endorsed this,” said Kathleen Parker, committee chairwoman.

Over the next five years the plan calls for the installation of 10 works of art, such as murals and sculptures. Places considered for the public art vary from adding a wall-mounted sculpture to the inside of City Hall, which already features some artwork, to spots across the city such as the Bowie Senior Center, Acorn Hill Park and Allen Pond Park, according to the plan.

While supportive of promoting artwork across the city, Russ Ideo, former leader of the now defunct South Bowie Citizen Association, said he was concerned that the bulk of the locations proposed for the work were in central Bowie.

“South Bowie is always overlooked,” Ideo said. “I would like to see some artwork around here.”

Annette Esterheld, the city’s liaison with the art committee, said the locations for the artwork can be adjusted by the council.

While Mayor Pro Tem Diane Polangin supported the public arts program, she said the city should move cautiously when making additional artwork purchases.

“Let’s just see how this goes,” said Polangin (Dist. 2). “I don’t want to see somebody breaking the bank over a piece of art.”

The City Council has sought to create a more unified plan for adding and promoting artwork across the city since 2008. Having a master plan allows the council to budget and plan for future artwork, said Councilman Todd Turner (At Large).

“It’s good,” he said. “We know what’s coming and can make some decisions as council.”

City Hall features a rotating exhibit of artwork as well as two large, permanent pieces of art — a sundial in front of City Hall and a moving kinetic sculpture titled “Triple Crown” that hangs inside City Hall.

The plan calls for the city to spend thousands of dollars each year on new artwork with the art expansion ending in fiscal 2018. The council will allocate the money during the budgetary process each year for the work and decide when and where the artwork will be displayed.

The council has to authorize funding for each project as well as approve the artist and artwork that the art committee selects for a job.

The art committee will continue to look for other places where works could be displayed, said Margaret Herman, an art committee member.

“Find a good spot for art and we’ll try and get something there,” she said.

The program, which gives special consideration to local applicants, is a boon to artists trying to make a name for themselves, said committee member Marion Shipman, a photographer and percussionist.

“I’m looking at this as the city giving a helping hand,” he said.

amccombs@gazette.net