City Council rejects Janet Zweig’s proposed public art location

City Council rejects Janet Zweig’s proposed public art location

At a regular meeting of the West Hollywood City Council on Monday, February 5, 2024, the City Council removed Agenda Item 2.M. from the Consent Calendar and effectively rejected an agreement to proceed with a temporary public art exhibit by Janet Zweig titled “A Poetry Generator for WeHo” in the traffic media of Santa Monica Blvd and Doheny Drive. In a 4-1 vote, the council directed staff to find another location for the artwork.

Zweig’s proposed artwork envisioned an interactive poetic experience at the gateway to West Hollywood/Beverly Hills. The exhibit, with a total budget of $200,000 covering all associated costs including fabrication and installation, will include up to 50 words on each board, for a total of 250 words, to generate a pedestrian-readable poetic text as well as by drivers. Collaborating with the City’s Poet Laureate, Zweig will curate the selection of words, ensuring an engaging and diverse experience for viewers. The final placement of the signs, designed to be visible to drivers while closest to the pedestrian path, will be determined in consultation with the Division of Engineering and Construction and Safety.

During public comment, Nik Roybal raised safety concerns with the council. He noted that the majority of comments from WEHO TIMES readers were against the project, largely due to safety, equity and access concerns. Roybal asked why the project was presented only in English and why a local artist was not selected for the exhibition.

Council member John Heilman questioned the location of the proposed public art installation, highlighting issues related to pedestrian activity at a busy intersection. He suggested a better location would be on San Vicente Avenue, near West Hollywood Park and the WeHo Library.

Arts Manager Rebecca Ehemann clarified that the renderings in the Staff Report were only conceptual to give an initial impression of the artwork. She said, “We’ve already shown that public safety is a concern. We immediately realize that the proposed locations of those foundations for the sculptural elements are too close to the edge of the boundary line. And we’re working with artists to bring them closer to the existing pedestrian path, which is ADA accessible in the media of Santa Monica Boulevard. It aims to invite interaction; it is intended to invite people to turn the mechanism to change the words on top of the art elements. And we’ll be coordinating with the artist to review the final drawings with our engineering, construction and safety teams, so there’s a lot more work to do.”

Ehemann added that they welcome proposals from all over the country, including local West Hollywood residents.

Council member Lauren Meister, who removed the item from the Consent Calendar, cited the large construction hole in the area, which she said impedes pedestrian activity at the proposed site and would result in less interaction with the artwork. . She proposed moving the project to West Hollywood Park, where she believes there would be more interaction.

“I think this is the wrong location for this project,” she said. “It’s literally sitting in front of a pit… there’s no pedestrian activity there at all. So you can advertise this and it will bring people maybe a weekend, maybe two weekends, you won’t have two years of activity there … It’s different when it’s art and people drive by and see [it], but this is interactive… my feeling is that you either delay it for a few years until the hole is filled, or put it somewhere else. I like the idea of ​​West Hollywood Park somewhere.”

Council member Sepi Shyne supported the article, but agreed that West Hollywood Park would be a better place for the art piece. She suggested that the art have different languages, perhaps in other parts of the city.

Mayor Erickson also agreed that the location was wrong for this installation. He suggested that WeHo Arts go back to the drawing board and bring the item to a new location.

Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers spoke in favor of the proposal, stating that she lived nearby and appreciated the art in the area. “I can appreciate what this art is doing and taking our attention away from the left or right side of the road and pulling us to the left where there are a number of businesses that I don’t think would want to hear us say that this is a very bad part of town,” she said. “There are a lot of us who live there already and are looking for more art in this space. And I think that does a lot to really attract people.”

Councilmember Meister made a motion to proceed with the project, but to explore alternative locations that are more attractive and suitable for pedestrian engagement. Council discussed the process of finding a new location for the public art installation, noting the need to return the project to the Arts and Cultural Affairs Committee for further consideration of alternative locations and programming opportunities.

The motion to not approve the contract for the current location and explore alternative sites, which could involve the Parks, Facilities and Recreation Commission for park-related locations, passed 4-1, with Vice Chairman Byers voting no.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *