USU, USTAR looking for public art

Now that the Utah Science Technology and Research building is complete on the Utah State University Innovation Campus, USU, the Utah Public Art Program, the Utah Division of Facilities and Construction Management and Logan community members are looking for artists to help compliment, represent and beautify the building’s grounds. The new USTAR Innovation Campus facility is in need of artists’ creativity in bringing art that is “derived from the essence of the programs and research housed there,” according to the Call for Interested Artists from the Utah Public Art Program. Applied Nutrition, Synthetic Bio-manufacturing and Veterinary Diagnostics and Infectious Disease are the areas that will be using the building. Public art is any kind of art work that is accessible or visible to the public. Sculptures, paintings, etched glass and landscaping are just a few examples of public art. The USTAR building is not a public building, so the art selection committee has chosen potential sites for 3-D art, Project Coordinator Fletcher Booth, said. The committee doesn’t like to be too specific in what they are looking for to allow for artist creativity, he continued, so artists are encouraged to suggest other sites for their work as well. “We don’t direct it too much. The artists come up with sometimes better ideas than the committee does,” Booth said. Committee member and Director of the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Victoria Rowe-Berry, said nothing is predetermined because sculptures can be made will all kinds of materials and it is more what the artists’ specialty is. “We try to leave the description wide open as possible so we can get the most innovative and exciting artist as possible,” Rowe-Berry said. In 1985, the Utah legislature passed the Utah Percent-for-Art Act which allows for 1% of construction costs of state public buildings for the purpose of “commissioning, maintaining and conserving site specific art at, on, or in the facility,” according to the Utah Division of Art Museum’s web site. Booth said it doesn’t apply to all projects, but usually the projects are very public like campuses and court houses. There is already public art on display at USU’s campus and at Bridgerland Applied Technology College in Logan. Because of this act, $87,000 has been approved to commission art for the USTAR building. Plans for the commissioning of art have been in place since the Utah legislature approved the building, Booth said, but the committee has waited for the facility’s workers to tell them when the space is available. The money will probably be enough to commission one artist, Rowe-Berry said, because the making of a sculpture can be very expensive. Rowe-Berry said public art is unique because unlike other art that is housed in a museum, public art is out in the environment all of the time. “It gets snowed on, rained on and people even climb on it and interact with it so it needs to be built to last but also take in the dynamics of the building and environment. It’s a wonderful honor and something that has longevity built into it,” she said. Projects are usually open nationally, Booth said, but “of course” Utah artists are encouraged to apply and are given preference when available. Rowe-Berry said because it is a state of Utah commission, if it came down to two artists who were tied in every other category, they would give preference to the Utah artist but that is not the general requirement. “We are really just looking at the quality and caliber of the art, regardless of where it comes from,” she said. The process right now is getting the artists to submit a letter of qualifications. The artists show examples of their past work and what their special abilities are. Rowe-Barry said a few of the applicants are then chosen and asked to present a proposal of what kind of art they would create for the building. She said the decision of who the artist will be will probably be made by December, but the actual art won’t be available until next Spring. “I am just one of a number of people on this committee and we all come from different perspectives,” Rowe-Berry said. “it’s nice that we can all blend together and come together to find something that is best for this building.” For more information about the grant for public art at USU’s Innovation Campus,

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