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Downtown tries to hand off egg project

POSTED October 12, 2012 10:08 p.m.

The Sunny Side Up public art project is being passed around like a bad egg, as the Turlock Downtown Property Owners’ Association made an appeal to the city Arts Commission on Thursday night to take over the flailing project.

“We are here tonight to see if there is a possibility that the Arts Commission would be willing to assume the project and perhaps share some of the financial burden that the downtown association has borne all along by itself,” said TDPOA director Dana McGarry.

In 2009, the Sunny Side Up committee — made up of the downtown association and members of the Arts Commission who are no longer commissioners — obtained a $10,000 loan from the City of Turlock to launch the project.  The committee, chaired by local attorney Axel Gomez, planned to put 24 fiberglass eggs that stand 4 feet tall around downtown Turlock. Each egg was to be decorated by a different artist, chosen by individual sponsors. The Turlock Downtown Property Owners’ Association guaranteed repayment of the loan and volunteered to help out with solicitation of sponsors.

The vision was for church groups, scout packs, businesses and organizations to each adopt an egg — adding art with an agricultural flair to the city’s culture.

“The $10,000 has been spent and we only have a prototype,” said McGarry.  “The downtown association spent an additional $4,000 and because of this we find ourselves in a quandary.  The downtown was paying the artists’ bills as they came in but was unfamiliar of the creative and manufacture process.  A member of the Arts Commission was approving the payments but not checking on the progress of the project.”

McGarry blamed the Arts Commission of 2009, and the downtown association in part, for the failure of the project.

“At this point, the board has no interest in pursuing an egg art project on their own,” said McGarry.  “We have no real interest in spending more money for creating eggs.  We are hoping to strike some type of deal with the Arts Commission to relinquish the mold and recoup some of our losses.”

Rather than jump on the project, commissioners were skeptical about taking on the financial responsibility.

“Is this an opportunity for the Arts Commission or is this a load?” asked Commissioner Larry Yeakel.

The newly elected members of the Arts Commission advised McGarry that the downtown association needed to find bigger businesses to sponsor the project, rather than look to a volunteer group with no budget.

“We need a giant sponsor,” said Commission Chair Lynn Gaiser-Sarraille.  “We need to find an egg producing business who would want to finance this project for the community.”

Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Superintendent and Arts Commission liaison Eric Schulze also cautioned commissioners during the meeting that the Arts Commission has little money to spend on any project.

By the meeting’s end, the Arts Commission agreed to help the downtown association find a way to keep the Sunny Side Up project alive.

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