On November 6th, City Manager Peter Iglesias signed an agreement for the acquisition of the artwork Induction Chromatique Coral Gables by Master Carlos Cruz-Diez for $180,000 and approximately $30,000 a year in maintenance costs. The crosswalk artwork is in front of City Hall along Biltmore Way.
The initial $180,000 purchase costs will be funded by the Art Acquisition Fund which is funded by new development in the City Beautiful. The on-going maintenance comes with an estimated $300,000 price tag over 10 years and will come from the taxpayer-funded general operations fund.
In 2017, Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli sought out Master artist Carlos Cruz-Diez for a public exhibition during Art Basel and Miami Art Week. The exhibition of painted crosswalks, Induction Chromatique, was installed in front of City Hall and at the intersection near the Coral Gables Museum by Ruth’s Chris and Café Abbracci (Aragon and Salzedo).
After the temporary exhibition, the Arts Advisory Panel and Cultural Development Board were presented with a proposal for acquisition of the designs in front of City Hall along with a maintenance plan.
In January 2018, Coral Gables’ Historical Resources and Cultural Arts Director, Dona Spain, advised the Arts Advisory Panel that to keep the crosswalks looking their best, due to the various colors, the design should be painted four times (4x) a year, making the maintenance budget of the piece approximately $60,000 per year ($15,000 per painting).
The Arts Advisory Panel at their January 24th, 2018 meeting made a motion not to approve the expenditure for the acquisition of the Cruz-Diez crosswalk and passed unanimously because of the high on-going maintenance costs.
Again, at the February 28th, 2018 Arts Advisory Panel meeting, the Cruz-Diez artwork was discussed. This time with representatives from Logistics Fine Arts, the company responsible for the installation and proposed maintenance of the Cruz-Diez crosswalks for the temporary Art Basel installation. They made their case for permanent acquisition and proposed two maintenance cost options, one for $18,000 with Logistics Fine Arts handling everything or $13,000 with Logistics masking the design and the City contracting the painting work.
The board members expressed their concerns with the on-going maintenance costs and similar works of art in Wynwood that are in bad shape.
They say third time is a charm, because at the April 25th, 2018 Arts Advisory Panel meeting, Logistics Fine Arts representatives Ninoska Huerta, Jose Moreno and Nella Daes made another push and addressed board member concerns. A motion was made to move forward with the acquisition and passed unanimously.
After the passing of the item at the Arts Advisory Panel, the item went to the Cultural Development Board in May 2018 where the item was taken up, discussed and ultimately passed 6-1.
On July 27th, 2019, Master Cruz-Diez passed away at the age of 95.
At the August 27th 2019 City Commission meeting, the commission unanimously approved the acquisition with conditions.
The motion made my Commissioner Mike Mena, seconded by Commissioner Pat Keon included to purchase the artwork at said costs, however with a few conditions. Mena asked that the vendor warranty their work and the city clear up the ordinary wear and tear language in the contract. In addition, Mena asked the city attorneys make the annual $18,000 payment conditional on yearly Miami-Dade County approval for the crosswalk installation.
In a recent email from Coral Gables Assistant City Attorney, Cristina Suarez to Commissioner Jorge Fors Jr., Suarez highlighted the sections in the contract that meet the commission’s conditional approval for the artwork acquisition and maintenance contract. Several elected officials found out about the re-painting through the city’s social media account and not through staff.
However, some elected officials were under the impression the item would come back before them for further discussion on the on-going maintenance costs; specifically where the $30,000 per year would come from.
After the recent expenditure for the Cruz-Diez crosswalk art, the city has a remaining $2,163,732 in the Art Acquisition Fund.
The next City Commission meeting is Tuesday, December 10th.