PORTLAND — An unpopular piece of landscape art may be headed for the scrap yard after the city’s Public Art Committee meets today.

The committee is expected to hold a public hearing on “Tracing the Fore” and hear from the artist who created it before voting on what should be done with the piece.

The meeting will start at 4 p.m. in Room 24 of City Hall.

City Councilor Dave Marshall, who serves on the Public Art Committee, said he is leaning toward removing the grass and steel sculpture, which is supposed to mimic the rolling waves of the Fore River.

“I’m still open to hearing what the artist has to say, being an artist myself,” said Marshall, who owns the Constellation Gallery at 511 Congress St.

“Tracing the Fore” was installed in 2006 for $135,000. Since then, city maintenance crews have fought a losing battle against crabgrass and other weeds that have overrun the sculpture in Boothby Square.

Critics say the landscape art has become an eyesore and should be removed. It would cost about $15,000 to remove and scrap the sculpture.

Committee members, who have yet to take a formal vote, agree that it should be gone.

Marshall said the artist, Shauna Gilles-Smith, will be given a final opportunity to present her case for preserving or moving the piece. There will also be a period for public comment.

Marshall, who was elected to the council after the work was installed, said the city’s lawyers have advised the committee that the city can remove the piece without violating the artist’s rights.

Gilles-Smith told The Portland Press Herald in September that she wants to work with the city to find a way to save “Tracing the Fore.”

She teaches at Harvard University and is founding principal of the architectural firm Ground Inc., based in Somerville, Mass.

Any vote taken by the committee will go back to the City Council, which has final authority over whether the sculpture is removed.


Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]