Market Street Public Art Project Gets the Go Ahead for A Gathering of Geese

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Thursday April 27, 2017

As Market Street construction projects get underway in the summer of 2018, plans for a large scale art display will take center stage, welcoming people to the heart of City Center. At the April 17 city council meeting, members unanimously approved the recommendation of the city’s public art selection committee for the area’s first installation. Local artist Tyler Vendituoli’s proposal for geese, 5 adults and 3 goslings, fabricated from silicon-bronze will be making their debut in 2019. According to Vendituoli, the geese will “be brought to a high polish to make all the edges and corners soft and then given a darker patina. In their lifetime, the finish will change and develop as people and the world interact with them, shinier spots here, darker sections there.” 

Fittingly, the geese will be located next to the stormwater retention pond on Market Street, with their feet firmly planted on cement blocks. Vendituoli noted that each goose will have an internal structure that will be permanently mounted into concrete pilings. “I will be working with a structural engineer to ensure the sculptures stability as I am fully anticipating that people will want to ride on their backs,” he said. The precise location of the geese will be decided as the project engineers and landscape designers work in concert with Vendituoli to find the site that makes the most sense.

The endeavor of making public art a City Center cornerstone came about through the work of the public art selection committee which was established in May of 2016. The committee is comprised of Chair Trice Stratmann, Jennifer Kochman, Jean-Sebastien Chaulot, and Amanda Holland. Michele Bailey of the Vermont Arts Council participates as a voting member and the city’s Project Director Ilona Blanchard provides staff support.

Stratmann said, “We’ve got a great committee. I think we each bring a different perspective to the selection process.”

Initially, the committee established bylaws and a resolution that created guidelines for public art selection. Criteria included aesthetics, craftsmanship, maintenance, and safety (no hazards to public health). The resolution also included information regarding siting of the artwork. The committee wanted it placed where the relationship and scale of the artwork would be appropriate to the proposed site and surroundings, and did not obstruct fire hydrants, utilities or other public safety, and preserved scenic vistas.
The committee’s requirements of a request for proposals included a vision and concept for art work that was unique and limited edition. Individuals also needed to submit examples of prior work, their qualifications, and history of success in fabrication and installation of pieces.

A request for proposals was put out by the committee in December 2016 and seven submissions were received, all from Vermont artists! Three finalists were chosen and the public was invited to weigh in at public meetings and at City Hall where prototypes of the pieces could be viewed and written comments submitted. The committee then ranked the projects’ quality, execution, and reviewed public input. One hundred comments were received and the majority seemed to prefer the geese.

Chair Trice Stratmann said, “Public art is something that can bring people together and give individuals a chance to discover an area they might otherwise not necessarily visit. This public art selection will make our community an interesting place and make a lasting impact on those who come to visit.”

What’s next for the committee? According to Blanchard, the committee will meet again when the next City Center project is funded for construction and an artist needs to be selected to commission a piece. Her hope is that this will occur by the end of the summer. The budget for each piece is 2 percent of the project budget or $50,000, whichever is less. “The attention and work that the committee gave to the art selection process really shows in the quality of their recommendation to the city council,” Blanchard added.

For Vendituoli, “The geese are the culmination of the information I was given about the project put through my own mental filter. That is, to create a project that met the needs of the city, was within but a stretch of my own capabilities and would likely be welcomed by the general public while also something that I’d like to spend the next two years deeply involved with on a daily basis. In the orientation meeting, I heard the importance of the pond and the watershed in creating a natural area within the new city center. I imagined what a wide variety of different pedestrians would enjoy seeing regularly and what would fit with the ponds and landscape. With that combination of ideas, giant geometric geese seemed like it had the right combination of public appeal, site specific possibilities and timelessness,” Tyler said.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent