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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Call to Order

the meeting was called to order by Chair, Jane Ditzler, at 6:35pm at the Community Center at Mercer View, 8236 SE 24th Street, Mercer Island, WA  98040


Roll Call

Members Present: Jane Ditzler, Helen Martin, Ellen Hochberg, Judith Powers Leithe, Katalin Pearman, Beth Brennen and Kevin Curry.

City Council:

Councilman Dan Grausz (left at 8:15pm)



Amber Britton, Arts Council Staff Liaison; Eileen Hemmis Trifts, Administrative Assistant; Bruce Fletcher, Parks & Recreation Director; and James Mason, Deputy City Director.




Terry Pottmeyer and Susan Kaplan, co-chairs of the Mercer Island Mercerversary Committee. 

The Mercerversary Committee requests permission and approval by the Arts Council to purchase and install a sculpture at the Community Center in celebration and commemoration of Mercer Island’s 50th birthday.  Further, they requested that the Arts Council consider approving a donation of $10,000 from 1% For the Arts to help fund the project.  The committee has selected artist Georgia Gerber to create a full-size sculpture titled “Hokey Pokey”. The artist already has several other pieces on the island. The sculpture depicts three full size bunnies in a playful way. The anticipated cost is $45,000.


In discussion, the Arts Council considered whether or not consideration has been given to commissioning an Island artist for a sculpture; whether or not the requested location for the proposed sculpture is appropriate given the types of activities the Community Center hosts; whether or not the sculpture itself is appropriate; and whether or not there should be more community involvement in choosing the sculpture.  They were concerned about the timeline for installation by December 2010.  It was felt that the artwork chosen should be more representative of the community as a whole. This playful piece of art was seen as appealing mostly to children.  Alternative location suggestions for the recommended sculpture were in a park or in the preschool area at the Community Center.


It was noted that a “Call for Artist” or “Direct Selection of Artist” could be done.  A “Call for Artist” would require a longer period of time and a Committee appointed to make the selection. A “Direct Selection of Artist” is faster than a “Call for Artist”, as they would be able to choose from a minimum of three alternatives. Both require City Council approval.


It was suggested that the Mercerversary Committee meet with the Arts Council to come up with a concept before proceeding.


Dan Grausz, City Council Liaison, commented that if the Arts Council wants a process where they are involved, they should have a committee that supports them.  There is nothing wrong with the Arts Council approving what is going to be installed in front of the Community Center, but to keep in mind that they (the Mercerversary Committee) have volunteered to do this project and to raise money for it. If the Mercerversary Committee raises the funds to go forward on their own, and want to gift the sculpture to the city, there is another committee and process that they would be required to go through.


Beth Brennen motioned: The Arts Council establish a separate ad hoc Art Committee to be chaired by Fred Poyner, Public Art Chair, one other member of the Arts Council, and Terry Pottmeyer and Susan Kaplan to look at options to acquire a permanent piece of art to celebrate Mercer Island’s 50th Anniversary.  The motion was seconded and passed.


Approval of Minutes:

Ellen Hochberg made a motion to approve the minutes of April 7, 2010 with the following amendment:

Page 3, 2nd line of the 2nd paragraph under Gallery:  Insert the phrase “for ongoing jewelry display” after the word “lobby”.

The motion was seconded and passed.


Chair Report:

Jane recently attended the Arts Summit and Cultural Congress conferences. She reported that she came back with lots of good ideas.  She also attended Congressman Reichart’s National Congressional Arts Competition. She received a letter of recognition.


The Arts Council has received 2 grants requests:

The Farmer s Market request is for $1,000 for a Band (entertainment).

MIVAL has requested $1,000 to put out a full-color island artist brochure/directory. 

A request has not been received from YTN.


Katalin Pearman motioned to approve the $1,000 grant to the Farmer’s Market for music. The motion was seconded and passed.


Helen Martin motioned to approve the $1,000 grant to MIVAL because they have been very supportive of the art walk.  The motion was seconded and passed.


Departing Arts Council members, Judith Powers-Leithe and Beth Brennen were recognized with praise and gifts for their many years of dedication and service to the Arts Council. Their terms both end on May 31, 2010. The Arts Council now has 3 vacancies.  There currently are nine or ten applicants for the Mayor’s consideration.


Staff Report:


78th Street Town Plaza Update

Phillip Decker of Phillip Decker Landscape Architects, at Parks & Recreation Director Bruce Fletcher’s request, appeared before the Arts Council with a presentation and overview of the history of the 78th Street Plaza project. He presented two conceptual designs that were created early in the process. The goal of the project is to provide a vibrant city plaza that would connect and foster community in the town center. 


Bruce Fletcher responded to a question from Ellen Hochberg as to why this information is being presented to the Arts Council.  He responded that the purpose is to get an opinion, discussion and then eventually selection of the art.  The Lake Line 1% for the Arts has been suggested as a way to pay for it.

It would still have to go before the City Council for approval.  The project has a long way to go.  It comes down to money, politics and the process.


Discussion by the Arts Council centered on the water feature. Safety, whether it would be sanitary, and maintenance were of concern.  Kevin Curry also felt that it was missing a bicycle bypass. He pointed out that there are a number of bicyclists that ride through that area.  If not a bypass, they will want a very clear indication that they should slow down and/or dismount.


In wrapping things up, Bruce said he wants more input from the Arts Council. He will put this topic on the agenda for the next meeting to keep the discussion alive.  He asked the Arts Council to keep in mind the art object.


Arts & Economic Development

James Mason, Deputy City Manager, presented information on a national economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in America to the Arts Council for their consideration.  It is a project of “Americans for the Arts” and is titled “Arts & Economic Prosperity.” 


One major aspect of a city is how people see you and what the quality of life in the community might be.  When the quality of life is high, art is a very big part of this.  People recognize secondary or tertiary benefits of the arts, e.g., art in schools, dance, theatre, etc.  This can have a direct impact on economic prosperity.  The difference in the success of the town center and the sense of place for the community is measureable.


The Deputy City Manager asked the Arts Council take a look at the prospectus and consider it. It would have to go to the City Council for approval. Jane Ditzler, Chair, felt that this would be something Fred Poyner, Public Art Chair, would be interested in pursuing.


4Culture Grant

Amber Britton advised the Arts Council that the 4Culture Grant awarded this year was for $8,000. We budgeted for $7,000 this year, but 4Culture is emphasizing that they may not have anything in years to come.


Arts Council at Summer Celebration

The Arts Council always sponsors an event at Summer Celebration.  Amber Britton advised them that one choice for this year is the puppet theatre.  The second choice would be “Junk Chimes” for two days.


Helen Martin motioned that the Arts Council sponsor “Junk Chimes” with 4Culture for Summer Celebration.  The motion was seconded and passed.


Banner Project Update

All of the submissions for the Banner project were on display during the meeting.  Amber Britton advised the Arts Council that the Call for Artist Committee chose the submission from Mercer Island artist, Becky Liu.  The banners will be unveiled at Summer Celebration with recognition given to the artist.




Due to the lateness of the hour, the meeting adjourned at 8:55 pm without completing Committee Reports.


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