Ongoing maintenance is the catch with city of Steamboat’s public art | SteamboatToday.com

Ongoing maintenance is the catch with city of Steamboat’s public art

Frances Hohl For Steamboat Today

John T. Young's "Gates of Asopus" sculpture that is found on the Yampa River Core Trail, was created in 1994 as one of Steamboat's first commissioned pieces in its public art collection.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Unless you have a pot of money to maintain it, don't even think about donating any public art to the city.

That's the catch after the city of Steamboat Springs ended the moratorium on public art donations.

In the meantime, the city has actually started an endowment fund for the current public art that it already owns.

"It would appear there are 75 pieces of public art in our inventory," said Winnie Delliquadri, the city's government programs manager. "Of that, we believe that the city owns 18 pieces."

For years the city accepted public art without thinking of maintenance.

"If you don't do ongoing maintenance, all these things happen to it and it degrades," said Delliquadri.

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The city put up $10,000 to start a Public Art Endowment Fund with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, a local philanthropic organization.

Now, if someone wants to donate public art, be it a statue or carved bench, or a mural, an art conservator has to determine how much money needs to be added to the public endowment to keep that particular piece of art in nice condition for perpetuity. The donor must then make sure they can put enough money into the endowment so that the city doesn't have to dip into its regular budget to maintain that piece of art.

While there is public art all across the city, much of it is maintained by other organizations. For example, the Yampa River Botanic Park has 18 pieces of public art while the Steamboat Springs Arts Council owns another 18. Delliquadri said the two organizations are incredibly responsible in their maintenance of the art and that the city must also do its part.

"We don't want to get into a situation where we have to rehabilitate a piece of art, we want to just maintain it," she said.

For example, earlier this year the city and the Steamboat Springs Arts Council hauled off two of its popular sculptures to be serviced. One of the sculptures had to be re-painted, re-lacquered and re-waxed after the bronze sculpture wasn't regularly cleaned and treated.

Steamboat has a particularly difficult climate for public art. Not only are the winters harsh, but the town is full of hot springs that have corrosive elements that wear on valuable art.

But now that a Public Art Endowment Fund has been set up, anyone can donate to keep the town's public art in pristine condition.

"The community expressed a strong interest in publicly displaying works of art that can be appreciated," said Delliquadri.

If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution for the new endowment fund, visit yvcf.org/art.