August 18, 2015 "THE IILLUMINATOR"
Read the full text below:
The buttons on Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Public Art Director Felicia Filer’s jacket in this political cartoon read:
“Don’t fund artist’s plaques,” “Fund My Retirement,” “Let Them Eat Paint,” and “Repair Flyaway?,” “Is Never Soon Enough?”
4 aluminum streamers and 10 neon tubes are removed by
L.A. Dept. of Cultural Affairs.
On May 11, 2014, 30-50 mph winds dislodged one of the streamers from my 114-ft. public art sculpture at the Van Nuys FlyAway. The 25 ft. long streamer had been been bent and broken in two. In a meeting on site in July, it was acknow- leged that it appeared that no maintenance had been done on the sculpture in the five years since it was installed in March of 2009.
In more than 80 email exchanges between myself and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) project manager Tim McGowan, I was told that I would be the contractor to remake the broken streamer and repair my sculpture as was outlined in my 2006 contract with the City.
But, as I learned only recently, instead of repairing/replacing the one broken streamer, they merely removed the three other good streamers, thus bastardizing my original vision. And without even having the courtesy to inform me or to explain why, after a year, they came to that decision.
What the City has done is unthinkable, immoral and illegal. Here’s part of what the contract says:
16. ALTERATION OF THE WORK OR OF THE SITE
A. DEPARTMENT agrees that it shall not intentionally damage, alter, modify, change or substantially relocate ART WORK of CONTRACTOR without first making a reasonable effort to confer with CONTRACTOR and circumstances permitting, obtaining the prior approval of CONTRACTOR or his Successor in interest to the proposed modification, change or substantial relocation.
With this new outrage, I no longer have to allege that the LADCA is incapable of making the repair to my sculpture. They have now proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Fifteen months later, having removed four streamers and ten neon tubes, they say the repair is still pending. That’s their code for “Not gonna happen while we’re in charge” (witness the over 200 art installations without identifying plaques after ten years). It took me only a year to build the entire sculpture.It took the LADCA six years to manage the project.
AFTER IT WAS INSTALLED in March of 2009, Los Angeles Dept. of Cultural Affairs (LADCA) Director of Public Art Felicia Filer and LAWA Art Manager Sarah Cifarelli tried to cheat me out of $23,231 on my original contract of $240,000. I had to hire a lawyer to deal with the city attorney. I won as I had all the documentation, but it took six months.
WRITING IN MY journal in 2005 about the FlyAway commission:
“The first clue I had that this was going to be a bumpy ride came when I was complaining to a fellow artist
on the selection committee that the amount of work an artist has to do for a whopping $500 with only a
20% chance of winning was...At that point, Felicia Filer, the director of the Public Art program of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs got up from her chair at the head of the conference
table and abruptly turned off the tape recorder.
So much for transparency!”
ON JULY 2, 2015, I WENT to Small Claims Court to attempt to recover the $3,750 I felt I was owed for my work over a period of seven months preparing for the re-creation of the broken streamer. I had made a full size pattern of the streamer noting the position of all the glass housings, neon tubes, neon tube supports and every screw that connected the 3/4 inch honeycomb aluminum pieces together. It was a template that would make the repair of the sculpture straightforward and quite simple. In addition, I had done hours of research as to costs of materials and labor. At that point, I was still under the impression that I was the contractor who would be making the repair.
In Court, I rolled out the 25 ft. pattern and presented twenty 11 x 17 panels of the photos and research I had done, and the documentation of every email exchange in the 7-month timeline of my involvement.
The City sent seven people from the city attorney’s office, the Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Los Angeles World Airports. I was told that they were particularly irked that I had sent a letter to Mayor Garcetti and the City Council calling LADCA and LAWA incompetent and what they had done to my sculpture an outrage.
When we were sent out in the hall to mediate, Sarah Cifarelli offered me $500 as a settlement for my $3,750 invoice.
Did the judge really say, “What if the streamer had killed a family of four?”
So even after 10 years, to the City of L.A. an artist’s work is worth no more than $500. City Attorney Mike Feuer’s campaign against wage theft is hypocritical. Wage theft runs rampant in the City’s own agencies!