By Dave Schwab
Former City Councilman Scott Peters, a La Jolla Community Foundation board member speaking on efforts to bring public art to the community, on Monday promised to seek the mayor’s approval on future projects and to make sure the art is maintained.
Peters’ offer gained the endorsement of the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance (PDO) Committee on a 5-0-1 vote on April 11. Orrin Gabsch, who is a community foundation donor, abstained.
The PDO committee oversees design standards such as colors, building materials and signage and makes recommendations to the La Jolla Community Planning Association, the official advisory group to the city. Members had previously raised concerns that some might question subjective public art and that such art could potentially violate the community’s PDO standards.
The community foundation has funded two colorful murals so far — on the back of the building at 7724 Girard Ave. and the side of the one at 7596 Eads Ave., and artists have been selected for two more sites, according to a letter from the Foundation spelling out the group's proposal. Noting all Foundation public art is privately funded, the letter said the art program will fund artwork at eight to 10 sites dependent on donations.
“The artwork is on orphaned blank walls and is designed to beautify La Jolla for La Jollans everywhere,” said Peters, adding it is intended to be temporary and periodically “rotated out.”
At a prior meeting, the committee had determined that Foundation’s initial public art program — a series of murals on buildings throughout the community — did not to constitute “signage,” as the artwork is not commercial or meant for advertising.
“If public art is not commercial and not a sign, why should it come before us?” asked member Michael Dershowitz.
Noting public art “will not be on the front of buildings,” committee chair Ione Steigler answered that some aspects of public art, such as site placement and “bright and garish colors,” falls within the committee’s purview.
Committee member David Little suggested future Foundation public art projects ought to be brought before the PDO committee as well for review, but there was no official action on his request.
Committee member Jim Fitzgerald characterized Foundation public art as a “controlled experiment.”