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City Hall art installation approved for $15k

The Claremont city council approved a permanent art installation to be placed in front of city hall during the Tuesday, January 9 meeting.

The piece, by Los Angeles-based artist Sijia Chen, contains three curved steel planks placed against each other to resemble a tree trunk. Botanical names of trees and plants in Claremont will be inscribed on the piece, according to Human Services Director Anne Turner.

In her proposal to the city, Ms. Chen said the piece was inspired by Claremont’s “rich and vibrant cultural values.”

“For this project, taking into consideration it will be in an outdoor setting, I wanted to address the significance of trees and citrus plants in defining Claremont’s landscape,” she wrote. “My intent is to acknowledge the history of the project’s location, to encourage interaction and engagement with the public and to contribute to Claremont’s cultural history and community.”

The piece will replace a planter that previously held a red ironbark tree that was cut down due to disease in 2015. A camphor tree was planted in its place, but it also failed to thrive, prompting the city to look to public art as an option, Ms. Turner said.

The piece was initially planned to be temporary, at a cost of $15,000—$10,000 from the city’s public art fund and $5,000 for installation.

But Ms. Turner relayed that at Monday evening’s public art committee meeting, the decision was made to purchase the art piece for permanent installation in front of city hall.

When the city asked Ms. Chen how much it would cast to buy the piece, she said it would cost $20,000, Ms. Turner noted.

That prompted Ms. Turner to offer a revised recommendation to the council—bumping up the total cost of the art installation to $30,000, including $20,000 for the artist agreement, $5,000 for installation and transportation and $5,000 for the removal of the planter.

Most of the council liked the new recommendation and approved of the artwork. The lone dissenting vote came from Mayor Larry Schroeder, who liked the piece itself, but did not want it in front of city hall.

“I can’t believe that we can’t dig out that front yard, isolate that area, put in good dirt and put a tree there, and that’s what I’d like to see,” he said. “I don’t think this really embodies the spirit of this location of the city of trees and PhDs. I’d love to see a tree there, and I’d love to see this piece of art somewhere in the city but not in this location.”

The council approved the art installation, 4-1.

The next city council meeting will take place on January 23.

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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