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Council approves larger-than-life public art

CARLSBAD — Council members unanimously approved Carlsbad’s 30th public art installment — a larger-than-life tribute to public safety personnel at the Joint First Responders Training Facility site — at their Feb. 8 meeting.
Artist Michael Stutz designed the piece, which will include a 7- to 8-foot-tall bust of a firefighter and a police officer. The installment will be crafted in Stutz’s signature style that features woven strips of bronze and stainless steel.
“I think it’s awesome — I couldn’t imagine anything better than these two busts in front of the training facility,” Councilman Keith Blackburn, a former Carlsbad police officer, said.
Council approved the project upon recommendation from Carlsbad’s Arts Commission. It will be prominently featured at the site of the Joint First Responders Training Facility that is currently under construction on Orion Way.
Stutz noted that his piece was designed to represent the dedication of safety personnel, as well as inspire those who will be training at the facility, which will include a shooting range, buildings that simulate fires and classrooms.
“When you walk up to them, you’ll encounter a large facial presence and the hats will shield you,” Stutz said. “I like the idea that public art, when it’s successful, is adopted and cherished by the people who see it on a daily basis.”
Project funding was set aside from the training facility’s estimated construction budget of $18 million. Carlsbad requires 1 percent of city project budgets be set aside for public art installments like Stutz’s, Carlsbad’s Arts Manager Peter Gordon said.
A Public Art Selection Committee unanimously selected Stutz from a handful of artists to design an installment. He has had both previous experience working with safety service personnel and extensive experience with public art.
The committee members’ criteria for the design required Stutz to create a work and setting that could be used for gatherings; that would help visitors appreciate those in safety service professions; and would represent the service and commitment these personnel provide to the community, Gordon said.
Stutz’s design was presented to the public for comment — an integral part of the selection process — through visual displays at local library branches and e-mail blasts. Police and fire representatives were also consulted.
Arts commissioner Heath Fox said the majority of comments were favorable toward the project.
“We embrace public art as a reflection and a celebration of our civic values,” Fox said. “No work is a better example of this than the one we presented to you tonight.”

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