The half-moon sculpture located on the southernmost end of Main Street, a symbolic gateway to Half Moon Bay’s downtown area, will soon be relocated as construction at the intersection of Main Street, Higgins Canyon Road and Highway 1 expands. With this in mind, the Half Moon Bay City Council is taking the opportunity to install a sweeping standard for any changes to public art.
On Tuesday, the City Council passed a new Public Art Deaccessioning Policy that establishes guidelines for the removal or relocation of public art. To qualify for this process, the artwork has to be examined under certain criteria, including its physical condition, if there is faulty design or damage, how much maintenance it requires and whether there is construction going on near the site of the artwork. An artist or a designated heir can also submit a request to remove the work from public display. The city also must evaluate its art collection annually and determine if any need to be moved.
“Any decision, whether it’s to move it within the city, return it to the artist, or do something else with it, we’ll definitely include them in that conversation,” said Victor Gaitan, a management analyst for the city. Gaitan noted that it’s not yet clear where or when the half-moon sculpture will be moved, but he has spoken with the daughter of the late artist.
If the artwork is deemed acceptable for deaccession, the first step involves filing a formal request to city staff, who will consult with other artists, galleries, historic associations or religious groups if necessary before it takes the request to the Parks and Recreation Commission. The commission can reject the request or make recommendations before submitting it to the City Council, which has the final say.
City staff is also drafting a general public art policy that will go into effect later this year.
The city has several options to remove or relocate public art depending on the situation. It can either exchange the work with an artist, museum or gallery, transfer it to an artist, put it up for auction, relocate it to another part of the city, or dispose of it if any damage is deemed too expensive to repair.
“Removing a piece of artwork can be a very sensitive subject for the community, the artist and the city,” Gaitan said. “It’s best to have clear guidelines and procedures whenever this occasion comes up.” r