Spearfish to place ‘framed art centers’ along Exit 8 rec path

This image gives an idea of the 10-20 “framed art centers,” with photos and information about local artists, proposed to be placed along the new Exit 8 rec path currently under design. The Spearfish City Council voted to match grant funds for the project not to exceed $20,000. Courtesy image

SPEARFISH — A public art installation is planned for the Exit 8 rec path to be constructed in the coming years. 

The Spearfish City Council Monday voted to allow the placement of framed art centers along the proposed recreation trail and to match grant funds for the project not to exceed $20,000.

“This would incorporate anyone from children that are creating artwork in their schools to professional artists that we have in our community that are quilting, doing welding, woodworking, whatever you can imagine,” Sian Young, former executive director of Matthews Opera House, who is currently assisting with the Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant, called Art Central, said during a presentation to the council Monday. “It can include a number of our people in assisted living facilities, those who are part of the Northern Hills Training Center, and a variety of different people throughout the community.”

Young explained that the innovation grant was awarded to the opera house in 2016. Art Central is “a community collaboration to centralize the arts as an integrated asset for inclusivity, development, and sustained outreach.” Project parameters include that all projects are art-based, artists are paid, there is a community participation element to all projects, and participation is open and free to all. Previous Art Central projects included Cardboard Chaos, painted crosswalks, Linking Fences, Spearfish Songbook, etc.

Young said that the original project grant incorporated an art installation to highlight local community artists, to be included in the Jackson Boulevard redesign. However, when the scope of the roadway redesign project changed and eliminated certain design elements, the art installation was no longer feasible. Young said that while they reached out to the Bush Foundation to see whether the grant funds could be utilized for another project, the foundation directed them to continue in the spirit of the original idea – and since the grant expires June 30, Young met with Mayor Dana Boke and City Administrator Mike Harmon Thursday, June13, missing the deadline to be on the committee agendas and meetings prior to the city council meeting.

“We’d prefer not to give these funds back,” she said of the $15,000 in grant funds set to expire June 30.

Young showed photos of the proposed “framed art centers.”

 “This is a very rough idea, just to give you an idea, of what we were envisioning,” she said, adding that the images were not maybe not as artistic as what is hoped for, but they show the frames that would highlight artist work, interviews with the artist, their photograph, etc. Young added that the Matthews Opera House believes that everyone is an artist, so the frames would highlight all ages, abilities, mediums, etc.

The idea is to install 10-20 of the framed art center pieces along the rec path, and Art Central would utilize the $15,000 toward the project. Local welding artists would help to design and create the frames, and Young mentioned Kristi McCoy, the welding instructor at Spearfish High School. Matthews Opera House would work with interns to develop panel stories and photography, and the panels would be replaced every month.

Young asked the city to install the pieces on rec path; provide up to $20,000 in matching funds to ensure enough pieces are created to have impact; commit to annual funding to print new panels; and include the Matthews Opera House and Bush Foundation logos on the panels.

“What does our community gain?” one of the pages of Young’s presentation asked, answering, “Unique and impactful art installation that captures contemporary community artist stories; ongoing involvement in project by young artists and writers; new attraction for visitors to Spearfish; and artistic linkage from the historic city area to new developments.”

“We’re seeking approval to move forward on this project, obviously because of the timing … of the (expiration of the grant) funds,” Young said.

After approval, she said, they would confirm the grant extension/fund transfer with Bush Foundation; develop panel designs in conjunction with local artists and the city; develop stories and photography for panels; and fabricate the pieces to meet rec path installation schedule.

Councilman George Martin asked if the installation had to go on the rec path, and Young said that no, it could expand to other parts of town.

“You want to have a certain level of impact with a project like this, and this essentially becomes a verbal sculpture walk,” she said.

Martin said that the map on the public restrooms downtown would be a good location for an art installation, as many people walk by that wall during Downtown Friday Nights.

Young said that the project is very unique; in their research, they haven’t seen other communities installing a piece like this proposal.

Boke said that any funding from the city would come from the Art in Public Places fund.

City Finance Officer Michelle De Neui explained that the fund was established in 2005. Its revenue comes from 5% of building permit fees annually, and the current fund balance is $62,876. The fund is for the acquisition/display of artwork, with various requirements, and the last time the city utilized the fund was for the installation of the Termesphere on the clock tower at the corner of Main and Hudson streets.

“So the funds are available for that,” Boke said of the project.

Councilman Darick Eisenbraun made a motion to allow for the placement of the centers along the rec path and match grant funds for the project, not to exceed $20,000. Councilman Dan Hodgs seconded the motion.

“I think it’s a great visual opportunity for Spearfish; promoting arts in Spearfish is important,” Hodgs said.

The council unanimously approved the request.

Young thanked the city for getting the request on the agenda so quickly.

At the conclusion of the meeting, City Attorney Ashley McDonald said that because the project would be installed on public property, that invokes some constitutional questions, and she would need to do some legal analysis to ensure that that city stays within the confines of the law, related to the project.

Earlier this year, the council selected to construct approximately 3 miles of shared use pathway, with asphalt surface, along the western and northwestern side of town, connecting its current rec path system with subdivisions in the Exit 8 area. 

The location of the pathway was determined through a previous study completed by FMG Engineering. It travels from College Lane, along Mortensen Drive, through Spearfish Pellet Company, LLC, property to Hillsview Road, starting on the south side and then crossing to the north side, to the east side of McGuigan Road, cutting further east to either utilize the west side Clear Spring Road, eliminating the current parking, for bicycle traffic and the sidewalk on the west side of the road for pedestrian traffic to Tumbleweed Trail, utilizing the existing Higgins Gulch crossing at Tumbleweed Trail, then continuing along the east side of McGuigan Road to Exit 8, then along Old Belle Road to Russell Street.

Construction of the path would be completed in two phases over two construction phases, with the first phase set to begin in spring 2020 and completion expected in fall 2021.

The engineering and construction budget for phase 1 is $845,000 and $525,000 for phase 2, for an estimated total of $1.37 million. The city has $1.375 million in its five-year capital plan for the final design and construction of the project.

A report detailing the route is available at cityofspearfish.com/Engineering/Conceptual%20Design%20Report%202-8-2019.pdf.

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