Public not included in Burien public art
The Highline Times ran a story stating the artist for the Dollar Store mural has been chosen. Like most of the public art that has been selected for Burien, it was done without citizen input.
The decision was mostly made by the city staff. As a result, Burien citizens continue to get public art that is not what they would have chosen or what truly represents their city. This is how Burien citizens ended up getting the BIAS and the “almost SCREW” public art projects.
Citizens are never sure how these subcommittees for the selection of public art are ordained but they always seem to be dominated by the city staff and even the selection meetings are kept secret from the public.
Public art is a difficult thing as it never pleases everyone but it should please at least 50 percent of the citizens. In Burien this has not been the case.
The heavy hand of the ex-mayor and the city manager has kept citizens off these selection committees and has resulted in a general dislike and distrust by the citizens for what they are going to be forced to have as public art. The ex-mayor used to pride herself by publicly saying that Burien citizens got no choice in their art; they got what the city staff gave them.
As long as the citizens pay the taxes and salaries of the city staff (including the council members) it seems that they should get a say in what they have to live with in their city as art. There should be some effort to create a process for how citizens get to be on the juries for these art projects. Sometimes even the arts commissioners are excluded.
Just because an artist has been selected, it should not mean that the artist gets free choice about what the citizens have to ultimately live with. The citizens should get the final say in whether they think the public art project that the artist has designed really represents their city.
Many citizens are tired of ugly heads on pitch forks, rusty giant women, phallic-symbol metal screws and metal cutouts that thieves steal for the melt down metal value as the only art work that represents Burien.
They would like to see some of their local artists employed on these projects. This mural artist lives in Chicago—what happened to the Northwest artist who was supposed to be selected for this project? Many citizens would like to see citizens select the art for their city rather than the Gina, Debbie, Michael L., Mike Martin and Joan McG Show doing all the selection.
Hopefully this mural will be a pleasant visual creation for Burien citizens and not another one that was created to please just a few city staff members.