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Sculptures could detract from Hart Park performance pavilion, groups worry

Proposed placement might be city's least costly option

Nov. 2, 2011

The group that donated the performance stage in Hart Park has a problem with plans to move six sculptures near it.

Rich Mannisto, president of the Wauwatosa Rotary Club, sent a letter to members of the Common Council and Park and Forestry Board, voicing the club's opposition to placing the artwork in the triangle just west of the Rotary Performance Pavilion.

"The members are excited about the artwork being considered for placement in Hart Park, but not in the triangle west of the stage," he wrote. "After consulting with several local artists, the placement of the six sculptures would be best suited for other areas of the park, namely a much larger tract of land, for their display."

He said the abstract sculptures - they range in size from 3 to 10 feet tall - would interfere with aesthetics and crowd the area.

The board of Tosa Tonight, which holds its concert series at the stage, has similar reservations.

"While the board members are all committed to continually growing art and culture in the Wauwatosa Village, we share the opinion with the Rotary that the proximity to the stage will prove to be a distraction from the intended aesthetic of the Rotary Performance Pavilion and potentially interfere with normal operations of our summer concert series," Executive Director Rick Bauer said.

Discussion about placement of the sculptures remains open, but with the concrete contractors working on the nearby playground, there are savings to be realized by putting down the bases for the sculptures in that area now, Mayor Jill Didier said.

The Rotary's concern has been added to the Parks Board agenda for a meeting later this month, President Tom Ertel said.

The club has no authority when it comes to the stage, because it was donated to the city. However, Didier would like to see all parties happy with the placement of the artwork.

"Our goal is to work to an amenable end, so everyone can appreciate the artwork," she said. "Hart Park has become a focal point for the arts and recreation in this community."

The biggest issue also goes to the heart of why it has taken so long to find a new home for the sculptures. Under the federal Visual Artists Rights Act, a living artist has control over the placement and treatment of their works. Didier has been working with artist Richard Taylor and other interested parties to find a permanent home for the pieces that everyone agrees on.

Next step

WHAT: The Parks and Forestry Board will discuss opposition by the Wauwatosa Rotary Club to place six sculptures near the performance stage

WHEN: 7:30 a.m. Nov. 15

WHERE: Muellner Building in Hart Park, 7300 Chestnut St.

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