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Input sought on proposed Carlsbad public art project

CARLSBAD — Carlsbad’s firefighters and police officers are set to be honored in bronze and steel by a local Fallbrook artist as the city’s next public art project.
Michael Stutz beat out five other San Diego County artists with his proposed design for installation outside of the future Joint First Responders Training Facility in Carlsbad. Pending community input and City Council approval, the project will feature two 8-foot busts of a police officer and fireman for the community to interact with.
Stutz’s proposed design is woven out of bronze and stainless steel that allows light and shadows to play through the pieces. He points out that the large scale of the installation that visitors will stand eye to eye with would “do what the police and firemen do for us — they shield us.”
The design has already been put through an extensive selection process, Stutz said. After he was chosen as the final artist, he created two designs that were presented to community members, architects, firefighters and police officers. The group selected the two-bust design to be presented to the Public Arts Commission for their first approval.
“It’s not the mayor or a councilperson (making the decision), it’s all the interested parties involved,” Stutz said.
Several modifications have been made to the pieces throughout the review process, including an adjustment to the badges to more accurately reflect the city’s firefighters and police officers.
After receiving the initial approval, the project is now in the public comment phase before it will once again head to the commission. After reviewing the community’s input, the
commission will make its final recommendation to Carlsbad’s City Council, Carlsbad Arts Manager Peter Gordon said.
Once the design receives the council’s approval, Stutz will take at least six months to complete the project. One month will be dedicated to engineering the interior of the piece, while another five to six months will be needed to fabricate the design using a technique Stutz has worked with for more than 10 years.
“(The design) makes people think about how they’re put together,” he said. “Every day they’re going to have a new experience with it.”
Carlsbad’s public art pieces have not always received a warm welcome. The “Split Pavilion” piece, which was put before public comment, was eventually removed in the 1990s due to the community not liking it. With better communication methods like the Internet available, Gordon said there’s “plenty of opportunity for public input” before the piece reaches City Council.
“It’s something that will be recognized as part of Carlsbad for a long time,” Stutz said.
Residents will have until mid-January to tell the city what they think about Stutz’s proposed project. Gordon expects to compile the responses and present them to the Public Arts Commission at its Feb. 4 meeting.
For more information on the project and to voice your opinion on the pieces, go to or e-mail