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 (Biltmore Way and Coral Way) 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 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.
That same month, the City Commission expeditiously approved the acquisition of an artwork license agreement by Master Carlos Cruz-Diez at a cost of $180,000. The cost would be funded by the art acquisition fund funded by new development, not taxpayer dollars.
On July 27th, 2019, Master Cruz-Diez passed away at the age of 95.
At the August 27th, 2019 City Commission meeting, the commission failed to pass a resolution approving the purchase of the Art and Copyright Limited License Agreement along with the maintenance agreement for the piece. The majority of the commission asked for
City staff pointed out that in addition to the 10 year commitment of $18,000 to Logistics Fine Arts, the city estimates an additional $12,000 in Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) costs each time the crosswalks need to be worked on. This brings the minimum total maintenance costs if re-painted once a year to $30,000 of taxpayer funds per year.
Commissioner Michael Mena was concerned with the installation and preservation agreement with Logistics Fine Arts. The language in the agreement gives Logistics Fine Arts the sole discretion to determine if the crosswalks are ‘to standard’. However, the agreement did not include a warranty of work done by Logistics Fine Arts. The commission asked for the contract include a time frame for warranty of work.
Vice Mayor Vince Lago brought up his concern with the commitment of ten years worth of maintenance totaling a minimum of $300,000 coming from the general fund. Lago wants to see the funds come from the art acquisition fund or other sources that does not come from taxpayer dollars.
The item is expected to appear back before the commission at the September 10th meeting.