Steel prices drive artists from Foundry art project

LOVELAND — Rising costs of steel have forced artists who had won the contract to place art at the new Foundry parking garage in Loveland to back out of their contract and return initial payments.

Michael Stutz and James Dinh had been chosen for the public art project and were scheduled to install their work this fall. But they notified  the Loveland Visual Arts Commission that they could not proceed as planned, and alternative designs were not acceptable to the VAC.

As a result, the VAC announced this week that it will reopen the Request for Qualification process to see new projects.

The VAC began working on the Foundry parking garage public art project in spring of 2017. Stutz and Dinh were awarded the contract in February this year. The Foundry is the multiple-block redevelopment between Lincoln and Cleveland avenues south of Fourth Street in downtown Loveland.

“As a member of the Visual Arts Commission, I am disappointed the artist team that was selected to complete the large-scale sculptural installation on the side of the parking garage at The Foundry site cannot fulfill their contract. I am, however, extremely excited about the opportunity to take a new direction with the project and look forward to selecting a new artist or team of artists to complete a wholly different type of art piece,”  said Abbie Powers, chairwoman of the VAC.

“While we are disappointed, this may be an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Many agree, since the garage has been completed, that color would be a welcome addition. Sometimes it is a good thing to have a second chance,” said Susan Ison, director of Cultural Services for the city.

A new round of requests for qualification will be held the week of Sept. 17. The commission will be seeking artists with strong backgrounds in murals, mosaics or similar colorful mediums.  The selected artist(s) will asked to design and fabricate both facades of the parking structure to ensure a cohesive design.

“Looking forward, I do believe that the city has an excellent opportunity to bring a dynamic, colorful design to The Foundry parking garage.  It’s a tremendous canvas for artists accustomed to working with large-scale murals or mosaic works,” said public arts manager Suzanne Janssen.

Money for the public art project comes out of the city’s 1 percent for the arts program, a program that sets aside 1 percent of public capital projects to be used for public art.