The notion that public art has to be selected by “the public” because it is funded by public money appears to me absurd.
First of all, I did not know that the volunteer members of the Arts Advisory Board were not members of the public. The community should applaud their commitment, donating time and talent for the City of San Diego.
Having those members of the public, who have attained excellence in their fields, advise a governmental body on the choice of public art is a tribute to the democratic process. As a taxpayer, I have never presumed that I should dictate to the government the design of their newest missile or satellite, determine the architectural style of their newest building, or choose the landscaping flora for parks, beaches or freeways. These are not my areas of expertise.
Secondly, it is apparent to me after hearing the testimony of the last San Diego Unified Port District meeting, where the proposed Ellsworth Kelly sculpture was discussed, that there is little agreement among those opposing the project. The notion of reaching a public consensus appears misplaced at best. For example, one woman wanted the work to be taller, a man proposed that it be smaller, someone suggested the meaning of the piece was hostile, while another individual felt it had no meaning at all! My overwhelming response to this is, “Would you like it in blue?”
I congratulate the port on the quality of their Arts Advisory Board, I applaud the selection of Ellsworth Kelly, and I only hope that those who will decide have the courage to support an exciting artistic opportunity for San Diego.