Decision to purchase sculpture questioned

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By Jennifer Garcia

The tranquility of water flowing from a stone fountain will soon meet the harsh sound of wheels hitting concrete as worlds collide in front of Mesa Public Library.


During Tuesday night’s County Council meeting, councilors approved the purchase of a stone fountain to be placed near the skate park. A motion was presented to council and passed with a 6-1 vote. Councilor Vincent Chiravalle opposed the proposal.


Parks Division Manager Dick McIntyre conceived the idea for the fountain.


“We were real surprised when Dick came forward to the (Arts in Public Places) board and said he really liked the fountain and wanted to put it in front of the library,” Community Services Director Stephani Johnson said. “It’s really kind of unusual for a staff member to come forward and make recommendations to the Board. It was well received.”


McIntyre said that he chose the sculpture from some catalogs that he was looking through. “It’s nice and round and it’s about knee high,” he said. “It will be a nice feature.”


The fountain will replace the sculpture, “Essence of Dance,” that was previously located in front of the library.


“Essence of Dance” was taken down when construction began on the skate park because there was some concern from residents and board members that the sculpture was too tall and would obscure the view of people that would be using the benches at the skate park.


The sculpture has been sitting in storage for the past several months, however, Johnson said that library staff and the Arts in Public Places Board have decided to relocate it.


It was originally slated to be relocated to the semi-circular area near the skate park and adjacent to the memorial benches, however, the new stone fountain will go there instead.


“It will be relocated not too far from the skate park,” she said.


The Art in Public Places Board believes the fountain sculpture will be a nice addition to the area and will fit in much better than the “Essence of Dance” sculpture that was previously planned for that area.


The purchase price of the fountain is $6,210 and is being purchased from Stone Forest in Santa Fe. Staff is also estimating that installation will be approximately $2,000, therefore, they recommended a total cost of $8,210.


According to its website, Stone Forest has created unparalleled hand-carved granite sculptures that combine the elegant simplicity of Japanese and contemporary design since 1989.


During Tuesday night’s meeting, Chiravalle voiced concern over the fact that a water fountain would be installed in front of the library. His concerns centered on the water that the fountain would use.


However, during the meeting, Chiravalle was reassured that the water would not be wasted.


“It has a circulating fountain and will take two to three gallons,” McIntyre said this morning. “It’s not a spray that comes up and the water is recycled.” McIntyre said that the water is part of the system that they put in for the skate park.


Despite reassurances during the meeting, Chiravalle is not convinced.


“I believe water conservancy is a critical issue for northern New Mexico,” he commented, “Los Alamos County has asked people to conserve, but I believe Los Alamos County also needs to conserve.”


He said that he would fully support a sculpture that did not necessitate the need for water. He also said that the quantity of water the sculpture would use is not the issue. Instead, he is more concerned about the water evaporation that will occur.


“I would choose another sculpture that does not consume water,” Chiravalle said.


He also wanted to make clear he supports art in public places, so long as water conservation is not an issue.


Johnson said that Library Board Chair Mary Barr wants to talk to Arts in Public Places Board Member John Hofmann about water conservation issues and the height of the sculpture.


“The height isn’t clear. We think it’s three to four feet,” Johnson said. “We’ll give them a chance to talk before we purchase it.”


She expects to make the purchase within the next month.