Feb 082012
Authors: Kate Simmons

Despite city budget changes, Ellen Martin said she thinks public art continues to be a priority and fixture in Fort Collins.

Martin, the visual arts administrator for the city’s Art in Public Places (APP) program, said it’s things like APP that improve the aesthetics of a community and enhance the lives of its residents.

“It (public art) can create a sense of place and distinctiveness, promote community involvement and collaboration, honor and natural environment, foster civic pride and support local artists,” Martin said.

Since its inception in 1995, the program has completed a total of 93 unique projects and painted 116 electrical transformer cabinets.

A review of the City of Fort Collins Operating Budget appears to show a $41,396 reduction in funding from fiscal year 2008-2009 to 2010-2011. This reduction is because most of APP’s larger projects are connected to construction projects undertaken by the city.

“The APP budget fluctuates every year, as funding is dependent on the capital projects occurring during the budget that year and which art projects will be undertaken,” Martin said in an email to the Collegian.

“Although the budget changed, it was not a deliberate cut to the program,” Martin clarified.

Despite funding fluctuations from year to year, city funding is responsible for the creation of public art throughout Fort Collins in parks, gardens, alleyways, plazas, streetscapes, natural areas, utility sites, culture and recreation facilities, trails and transportation centers.

“APP has proved to be valuable to Fort Collins,” said City Council Member Wade Troxell. “It enhances the human scale of our built environment.”

One of APP’s most recent projects, “Pianos About Town,” involved local artists who painted pianos that have been displayed in Old Town Square and the Foothills Mall.

Another project last summer involved Rafael Lopez, a children’s book illustrator, who joined APP and the Poudre River Library District to create the Rafael Lopez Community Mural Project.

More than 125 people came together to paint a mural that remains on the ground floor of the Civic Center Parking Structure.

Other community-based projects include the Pedestrian Paver Project that sandblasts kids’ drawings into granite pavers that are placed in city sidewalks.

“I’d be working out there for weeks at a time during the summer and the response from the public seems to be an overwhelming love and support of the Arts in Public Places program,” said Kirsten Savage, a local artist who has worked on many APP projects. “People would yell ‘Love it!’ out of their cars.”

Unlike other programs that come up with an art project and then ask artists to submit an artwork for consideration, APP chooses artists based on their abilities and past work.

“This provides the opportunity for the artist and project team to collaborate and conceptualize an appropriate and dynamic artwork for each site,” Martin said.

APP is currently looking for artists interested in painting transformer cabinet murals in 2012. Students interested in submitting ideas can find an application at: http://www.fcgov.com/artspublic/current-competitions.php. Applications must be submitted by March 2.

Collegian writer Kate Simmons can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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