The city of Los Altos will contribute $7,000 toward the purchase of a $28,000 art installation featured in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “Project Los Altos: SFMOMA in Silicon Valley” exhibition.
The Los Altos City Council voted 4-0 at last week’s meeting – with Councilman Jarrett Fishpaw absent – to partially fund the permanent installation of “Door Sculpture to Talk About the Idea of Different Possibilities You May Have to Process Your Life” at Lincoln Park.
After some residents and the Public Arts Commission expressed interest in retaining the piece – more commonly referred to as “The Doors” – the city council considered the proposal. The commission formally recommended its purchase last month after artist Chris Johanson agreed to discount the piece to $28,000.
Passerelle Investment Co. contributed half of the cost, and the Los Altos Community Foundation established a fund to raise $7,000 in public donations still needed to purchase the artwork. Johanson agreed to keep the installation in place at Lincoln Park through the end of April to enable those involved to raise the remaining funds.
“I’d be happy to work with other community groups and the (Public Arts) Commission in promoting the raising of the funds,” Community Foundation Executive Director Joe Eyre told the council, adding that the city should also consider a commemorative plaque that would list the donors.
The council approved the city’s $7,000 contribution despite concerns by some members that the time frame left to fundraise was too short.
“I think it’s a big challenge to raise $7,000 from the community in the next few weeks,” said Councilwoman Val Carpenter, who suggested that the city act as a guarantor for the remaining $7,000 needed by contributing $14,000 and later regaining some of those funds via public donations.
Mayor Megan Satterlee countered that if the council guaranteed the remaining funds, the public would find little motivation to make personal contributions.
“I think that once it’s purchased, the incentive for anyone to donate is very small because what’s the need? The money’s already spent,” she said. “A donation before the purchase means that if you don’t (raise the necessary funds), you don’t make the purchase. That’s the incentive.”
Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, who echoed Satterlee’s fundraising concerns, said she supported the idea of purchasing the piece overall. She said it could also serve as a tribute of sorts to “Project Los Altos.”
“I’m biased, because of all the pieces from SFMOMA, this was one that really spoke to me,” she said. “I really liked this one. … But I also believe it’s nice to have something that’s kind of a memento from this whole SFMOMA experience.”
A final location for the installation – pending its purchase – remains open. According to a city staff report, the artwork’s current location conflicts with the Rotary Club of Los Altos’ annual Art in the Park event. City Clerk Jon Maginot told the council that city staff identified a potential location in the park not far from its current home – near a grove of trees south of the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce building.