City of Hermiston to Consider Adopting Public Art Master Plan
The Hermiston City Council will consider adopting a Public Art Master Plan at its August 8 meeting with the goal of helping to facilitate increased placement of public art throughout the community.
The proposed plan, available for review on the City of Hermiston website, establishes five general themes and values which should be represented through the community’s public art to reinforce a cohesive sense of place. The plan also identifies 37 general areas in Hermiston where public art could logically be placed. Finally, the plan incorporates a set of policies for the city to follow when accepting, maintaining, re-locating, or disposing of public art. The plan does not directly call for City of Hermiston funds to be used for developing public art, but does create a streamlined approval system that interested community members can use in order to raise donations for public art installations.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity to enhance the livability of the community through public art,” Mayor David Drotzmann said. “This plan is a proactive approach to head-off the challenges that can come up when someone proposes placing art in our public spaces. My hope is that by going through this extensive process now, it will be much easier to install public art that the entire community is proud of.”
Creating a Public Art Master Plan was first recommended by the City Council in early 2014. The Community Enhancement Committee (CEC) then put out a Request for Proposals for plan development in late 2015, and chose consultant Rebecca Couch, who was instrumental in developing the Public Art Master Plan for Moscow, Idaho. Couch met with City Staff and toured the community in early 2016 and presented a large list of potential sites for public art to the CEC for review and comment. The proposals in the plan do not identify specific art, such as, “place a painting of a watermelon at this corner,” but instead generally identify items like, “a large sculpture,” to be placed in a general area. Once the CEC’s comments were incorporated, Couch & City Staff hosted three public involvement sessions to get community feedback about the proposed locations, as well as about what types of art the community would like to see.
The feedback during the public involvement sessions, on May 6 and 7 during the Eastern Oregon Arts Festival, and on May 21 during the Hermiston Saturday Market, reinforced support for most of the proposed art locations, and also provided the basis for forming the five Themes & Values for the plan. The Themes and Values identified in the plan are Water, Agriculture, Watermelons, Transportation, and Heritage. Although they should be broadly interpreted to encourage artistic expression, public art in Hermiston should strive to maintain a component of at least one of the identified Themes and Values.