November 17, 2010

Art panel votes to relocate controversial sculpture

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The Portland Public Art Committee voted to relocate the controversial piece of public art at Boothby Square known as “Tracing the Fore.” The vote was 7-3, and it followed a failed attempt by the committee to deaccession the piece, which would have removed it permanently.

click image to enlarge

"Tracing the Fore" in Boothby Square.

2010 Press Herald file

The final destination of the landscape installation remains to be determined. The committee considered two options on Wednesday evening, including city-owned land at Fish Point at the Eastern Promenade and along the Fore River near Mercy Hospital. Committee Chairman Jack Soley said a public hearing would be scheduled to discuss those and other potential locations.

The committee’s decision pleased landowners in and around Boothby Square, who have complained for years that the landscape sculpture with stainless steel waves was dangerous, out of place and just plain ugly.

But landowner Matt Cardente, who led a petition drive this summer urging the committee to do something about it, said he was disappointed that it’s going to cost city money to relocate it. Already, it has cost the city more than $135,000 since its installation in 2006. Soley estimated it would cost another $8,000 to $15,000 to remove it, and that figure does not include the cost of relocating the piece or the cost of remaking Boothby Square after it is torn up.

“I’m glad they’re removing it, but the decision to spend more money to relocate doesn’t please me,” Cardente said. “I’m not sure based on the responses of people who live and work down there that the committee understands our feelings. We should not be spending more money to relocate it.”

The public art committee vote is not a final decision. The committee’s vote represents a recommendation to the City Council, which has final authority.

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