Visitors to Nelson city hall, stepping off the elevator on the second floor, are greeted by a very large painting, Nelson Back Alley Grid by Wynndel artist Sandy Kunze.
Walking down the hall, there is more art. In the reception area of the city offices: a large photo of a fall landscape by Jim Lawrence and a fabric collage by Kate Bridger.
Nelson painter Carol Wallace with Mayor Deb Kozak and Wallace’s painting A Lot of Legs, which is hung in Kozak’s office. Wallace says she lets her young children name her paintings. All photos by Bill Metcalfe.
When city hall put out a call last year for visual artists to take part in its art rental program, they got over 150 applications.
One of the paintings chosen was A Lot of Legs by Carol Wallace. It’s hung behind Mayor Deb Kozak’s desk.
“I am really honoured that my painting is in the mayor’s office,” Wallace told the Star. “I’m thrilled.”
A jury of artists adjudicated the applications and narrowed it down to the 16 now hanging in the city offices. The artists are paid a monthly rental fee of three per cent of the estimated sales value, so the rental for a painting worth $1,000 would be $30 per month. The city’s cultural development officer, Joy Barrett, says this calculation method is based on her research into similar programs elsewhere.
City employee Ginger Lester has a piece by photographer Jim Lawrence in her work area..
“It is important to us to pay the artists,” she says. “A lot of times artists are asked to display their work for free, for the exposure, and we try not to do that because this is their living.”
The money comes from the city’s public art reserve fund, which is fed by three per cent of the city’s building permit fees. Chief financial officer Colin McClure told the Star the contributions to the fund have been $4,063 in 2013, $2,747 in 2014, and $3,913 in 2015. Not all of this was used for the art rental program, which began in 2015.
Deb Kozak and Carol Wallace with Nelson Back Alley Grid by Sandy Kunze.
Kozak speaks enthusiastically about the program.
“Having art in city hall has been a wonderful experience not just for me but for the staff, and for people who come in to see me daily. There is a never a shortage of comments, or people interested in who the artists are. [They ask] where did you get it, where do they live, and it is also amazing the feeling that art inspires in an office.
“I had two other works in my office for the past year and when they were taken down, the walls were bare, it was amazing how the mood shifted in the office. I was surprised by that, and we were really happy to get the new art. This is a public space, and we have public art, showcasing artists in our area. It is a fine thing to do.”
City employee Ginger Lester’s work area behind the reception counter is flanked by the Jim Lawrence photo and Kate Bridger collage.
“I feel very fortunate,” she says. “My desk area is getting lots of attention, and I feel I have another window in my office. It makes coming to work every day even more enjoyable because I have such a wonderful space with this beautiful art in it.”
Deb Kozak with Monochromatic Composition #6 by Tsuneko Kokubo.