Ever wonder how the city of Orlando selects the artwork that hangs on the walls and in the galleries of City Hall, or the sculptures found in public spaces around town?
Then it might interest you to attend a meeting of the city’s Public Art Advisory Board, a nine-member panel that helps the city decide how to spend its Public Art Fund. All estimates for capital-improvement projects proposed for the city must include a 1 percent fee that developers pay into the Public Art Fund coffers. The money can be used to buy art, enhance architecture or create special landscaping treatments for public spaces. The Public Art Advisory Board is made up of citizens appointed from various disciplines: per the city’s website, the board should have an architect or interior designer, an art professional, an art historian, an art educator and at least one bona fide artist.
“Most people don’t even realize that the board exists,” says Orlando artist Mauricio Murillo, who was appointed vice chair of the board recently. “It’s been around for quite a long time, and we hold meetings about once every two months.”
In the past, Murillo says a lot of the artwork the city invested in was fairly traditional: “If you go to City Hall, the mayor’s art gallery, what you’ll see is a lot of different landscapes and things that represent the city,” he says. “But we’re looking to change that a little bit. We have a lot of art, but I don’t feel it really represents all of Orlando.”
Murillo says the city’s art scene encompasses a wide range of styles and perspectives that aren’t well represented in the current collection. Murillo himself is a former graffiti artist who has emerged as part of the city’s New Brow scene – one of his specialties is creating digital images of gummy bears in various scenarios. But before the city can even consider buying new kinds of art, local artists need to get their work in front of the board.
“We had a good discussion about that in our last meeting,” he says. “We would like to see more diversity, more exciting art brought to the board. We want that to happen, but first we need people to know that the board exists.”
Murillo says artists who want to present their work to the board can submit a resume, bio and slides or a CD to the city, but he recommends that anyone interested attend the board’s next public meeting, which will take place March 15 at 4 p.m. at Leu Gardens.
“If you’re interested in submitting stuff but aren’t sure what to expect, then that’s the best time to come and check it out,” Murillo says.
For more information about the city’s Public Arts Program, visit www.cityoforlando.net/arts
Closing this week: Speaking of public art, one of the shows closing this week is an exhibition presented as part of the Public Art Program. Watercolor Country, a show of paintings by Ken Austin, resident artist of Orlando’s Comma Gallery, hangs until Jan. 27 at Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 N. Forest Ave. Hidden Artists, a show featuring the work of 12 artists from the University of Central Florida’s staff and faculty, ends on Jan. 23. The show is at the UCF Library, 2000 Central Florida Boulevard.
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