After a recent controversy erupted in Long Island City regarding a piece of artwork that many deemed ugly—some compared the eight-foot tall bright pink sculpture to “Gumby’s grandmother”—a new bill has passed that would give neighborhoods some input before public works are installed.
The bill, which still needs to be signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio, was passed last week by City Council, and only impacts the city’s Percent For Art initiative (for now). The program, which was enacted in 1982, allots one percent of the city’s construction budget toward commissioning and installing public art. With this new bill, the decision over what public art should be installed will be reached by including votes from the community, with the hopes of potentially forestalling neighborhood disdain regarding “ugly” works.
“My bill aims to enhance the Percent for Art program by giving New Yorkers the ability to have a greater role in selecting public art projects that truly reflect the diversity of our city,” Jimmy Van Bramer, a city councilman representing Long Island City, said in a statement. Van Bramer introduced the bill earlier this year.
The bill was enacted amid controversy surrounding the $515,000 installation of Ohad Meromi’s Sunbather (pictured above—I like it, but that’s just me), which is scheduled to be installed next summer.