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City Council, Parks and Arts Commission review new public art guidelines
Council slated to vote on final document in October
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The Turlock City Council and Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission are working together to bring more public art to town after reviewing a proposed public art policy and set of guidelines at a joint meeting Tuesday.


“I like the application because I want it to have a wide net in the beginning and then it’s your job to bring it down and refine it and it’s our job to really refine it and make that judgment call,” said Mayor Gary Soiseth. “This really highlights and allows people to incorporate the City of Turlock’s history and some things that make Turlock unique in their artwork, so I like the process.”


Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Manager Erik Schulze said the intent of the Public Art Policy and Guidelines is to place a variety of public art pieces throughout the City, making it accessible to the entire community. The Public Art Program is designed to offer a wide range of artistic styles, themes and media, all of outstanding quality that showcase the City of Turlock and reflect the community’s values and traditions.


Under the policy, all projects would be directly sponsored, managed and controlled by the City of Turlock, with the City having sole discretion to select those messages it wants to promote.


“In setting this document up, we tried to make it as thorough as we possibly could, but still make it user-friendly,” said Schulze. “We didn’t want it to be too cumbersome so the applicant wouldn’t figure it out or wouldn’t want to look at it.”


As detailed in the proposal, any group or individual that wishes to display public art must first complete a Public Artwork Permit application, which will be reviewed by City staff and the PARC to ensure conformance with all criteria and applicable land use regulations before appearing before City Council.


“If they do get denied, they do have an option to go back and refine their application and bring it back for the Commission to look at again prior to going to Council,” said Schulze.


Among the recommendations offered during Tuesday’s joint meeting was one by PARC Chair Brent Bohlender, who requested that the application ask for more information about the artist.


“I would hope that on the permit application that at least some sort of short bio of their experience would be included,” said Bohlender. “They don’t have to be a money-making artist or anything, but we just so we have some sort of background as opposed to someone just coming and saying ‘I’m an artist.’”


City Councilmember Steven Nascimento voiced his concerns regarding the Public Art Relocation or Withdrawal Policy and Guidelines, which stated that relocation of artwork may be considered if “a more suitable location has been proposed.”


“I think that’s a pretty low threshold for moving a piece of art,” said Nascimento. “If there was another issue and there was another location, then I think that would warrant it, but it seems like just because someone thinks there might be a better spot for it might be a low threshold.


“I would encourage us to look whether or not that qualifies as a reason to move a piece of art,” continued Nascimento.


Schulze said staff will continue to solicit feedback regarding the policy and guidelines and make necessary revisions before returning in front of PARC on Oct. 12. City Council is slated to vote on the item on Oct. 25.