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Birmingham seeks public art donations

By Kevin Elliott


The city of Birmingham is seeking artists to donate or loan works to the city for five locations throughout the community, including spots at Poppleton Park, Linden Park and three terminating vistas at key locations in the city.


City commissioners on Monday, December 21, unanimously approved putting out a “call for entry” to various art galleries and organizations in hopes of procuring five donations, with the city providing a $2,000 stipend to artists for approved works. The effort stems in part from the city’s public arts board’s terminating vistas report, which called for using sculptures, artistic furniture, landscaping and other artistic works to enhance the city’s terminating vistas.


Birmingham Planner Brooks Cowan said one of the locations includes enhancing an electrical box with artwork and a sculpture, and additional sculptures at other locations.


“The public arts board has been waiting for the West Maple construction to be completed. Within those plans include a structure based in front of Anthropology, at the intersection of Henrietta and West Maple,” Cowan said. “Right now there’s a six-by-six pad, so they’ll be looking for a smaller sculpture there.”


Additionally, Cowan the city is hoping to replace the 15-foot tall sculpture at 555 Old Woodward that was removed last fall, which would be a larger piece to serve as a gateway to the city. Additional locations include the grassy area near Linden Trail at Linden Park, as well an area in Poppleton Park.


Commissioners discussed some of the potential specifics, particularly the electrical box along Old N. Woodward Avenue at Hamilton Row.


Commissioner Clinton Baller said he opposed enhancing the electrical box beyond its current green color as he said the historic area is already too cluttered.


“The goal should be to unclutter it and restore its historic nature,” Baller said.


Commissioner Mark Nickita suggested approving the resolution as the resolution would grant final authority of the design to the city commission before any installation.


“We spent $12 million on street improvements on Woodward and Maple, and we want it to look as positive as possible, and would want the arts board and creative community to be creative and enhance our downtown,” Nickita said. “I think it’s irresponsible to say we shouldn’t be allowing the creativity to come forth.”

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