The Santa Clarita City Council approved Tuesday a $60,000 budget for three sculptures at the new Canyon Country Community Center.
The public art will be made of steel and represent the Western Scrub-Jay, wildflowers and the canyon sunrise, which were “inspired by Santa Clarita’s surroundings and inhabitants,” according to the artists.
Councilwoman Marsha McLean voted against the appropriation, sharing concerns about the installation’s cost.
“I cannot in good conscience pay $15,000 for steel-colored poles,” said McLean, who raised concerns about the originally proposed name for one of the three sculptures last month. “When we pay artists $60,000 and we ask for a very slight change…I don’t think it’s above what we should be doing.”
The City Council first considered the funding for the sculptures at its April 13 meeting when the canyon sunrise sculpture – a row of colorful steel poles in ascending height – was called “Vasquez Rocks.”
At that meeting, McLean asked the artists to consider more depth and character for the “Vasquez Rocks” sculpture, in addition to considering alternate representations of Santa Clarita.
Artists from H&E Design, whose art proposal was selected by the city of Santa Clarita Arts Commission from among 126 submissions, agreed to change the name of the “Vasquez Rocks” sculpture to “Canyon Sunrise,” but not the sculpture itself.
A majority of the City Council agreed with the name change and empathized with the artists’ argument that “adding new elements to the sculpture will compromise the artistic intention of the piece, as its design aesthetic is simplicity.”
“When I look at these pieces, this is exactly what we expect of art,” said Councilman Jason Gibbs. “As we’ve seen here at the dais through the discussions, this is what art is supposed to be (and) this is what it’s supposed to do for all of us.”
Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste said the “Canyon Sunrise” sculpture made more sense when she learned that it would be positioned in front of a mosaic wall.
“What they designed is something that as the sun sets and there are changes in the light and you walk around it, you see mountains,” she said, noting she was pleased that the artist kept the art’s original intent. “I do not want to recreate art from the dais ever. If we don’t like art, send it back to the Arts Commission.”
Homeless funding awarded
The City Council appropriated Tuesday $300,000 of Los Angeles County Measure H funds to Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley to support some of the initial costs of developing interim housing in Newhall.
The funds – earmarked to address homelessness in Los Angeles County – will reimburse Family Promise for fees it has paid as part of the development process.
“This is something very vital and needed for those families to keep them off the streets,” said McLean.
The transitional housing is part of the city’s Community Plan to Address Homelessness, prepared three years ago. The city has already awarded $75,000 to a hire a coordinator to implement the plan and oversee a community task force addressing homelessness in Santa Clarita, according to a staff report.
In 2020, the city donated city-owned property in Newhall to Family Promise for the development of the proposed interim housing. The proposed development is scheduled to be considered by the Santa Clarita Planning Commission next month.