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County empanels new Arts Board

The Kitsap County Commissioners appointed the inaugural nine members to the new Arts Board on Monday, Dec. 17.

The board will be charged with incorporating artwork into county-built public buildings and parks and will have an estimated annual budget of $37,500. The board was created by the 1 Percent for the Arts ordinance, approved by the commissioners in August, which requires that 1 percent of the cost of county capital improvement projects be allocated for public art. Streets and utilities are exempt from the ordinance.

County volunteer coordinator Jan Koske said 30 people applied for the positions.

Along with deciding what pieces the county will buy from local artists, the board will weigh in on placement of the works and will solicit donations.

The newly-appointed members foresee getting started as their biggest immediate challenge.

“I’ve never put one together before and that’s what’s going to be exciting about this,” said Elizabeth Huddle, a North Kitsap representative and 40-year veteran of several theater groups. “We’re going to have to get to know each other, what the needs are from the county and (start) setting up the board’s structure.”

“We need to come up with a strong mission statement defining what art is,” said James Smalley, a Central Kitsap board member, “but art in itself may be undefinable.”

Kenneth Lundemo, a Central Kitsap representative, has created public works of art before. Among them is a sculpture the state commissioned for Poulsbo Elementary School.

“It is very important we do have some public art in our buildings and the best way to do that is through state, city and county organizations,” Lundemo said. “I feel privileged to be a part of this.”

Another of the board’s challenges will be choosing public art which is appropriate for the community.

Board members said they plan to requests concepts, then make selections from the proposals submitted. The final decision of whether the works will be purchased will rest with the county commissioners.

“You have to think about a lot of different things, like if it’s going to offend people or if it’s appropriate,” Lundemo said. “As an artist you learn to compromise (on a public arts project) and work with a lot of committees.”

The board will have a model in the 9-year-old Bainbridge Arts Council, which performs a similar function for that city.

Mack Pearl, chairman of the Bainbridge Arts Council, said his group takes a number of steps before a piece is approved — among the groups which must sign off on a public piece of art are his council, the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanity Council and the city council.

Pearl said it took the Bainbridge group two years to get organized before tackling its first project.

“It takes time,” said Pearl, an architect. “It took a couple of years to put this together, and then the process of selecting art takes time because you get a lot of people involved.”

Smalley hoped it wouldn’t take so long to get the county group started.

“We need to look at successful programs and what they do so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Smalley said.

Get on board

Kitsap County’s new Arts Board is composed of three people from each of Kitsap’s three commissioner districts. Members were appointed by the commissioner from their respective district. They include:

• District 3/Central Kitsap: Gail Goodrick, a librarian for the Kitsap Regional Library with a master’s degree in art history; Kenneth Lundemo, a sculptor who helped found the Collective Visions art gallery in Bremerton; and James Smalley, senior vice president at the Salomon Smith Barney stock brokerage in Silverdale and former part-time photography teacher at Olympic College.

• District 1/North Kitsap: Wendy Armstrong of Kingston, an artist and designer who creates custom lighting fixtures; William Baran-Mickle, a Bainbridge Island-based artist and writer with a background in art history; and Elizabeth Huddle, a retired theater director and former member of the King County Arts Commission.

• District 2/South Kitsap: Judith Craig, a retired interior designer from Port Orchard; Marvin Woody Jr., a Merchant Marine; and Sharon Zerr, a Port Orchard graphic artist.

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