It would be unrealistic to believe that Sand City’s Mural Festival has anything to do with City’s history, heritage or culture. At first when I saw the small mural of the cat, like most people, I had no idea it was painted by someone who was flown in from Colorado. In my naive Sand Citian way I thought the members of the Art Committee had finally rolled up their sleeves, got a couple of cans of paint and painted the cat themselves. When I was told that the City was paying artists from other places, I naturally was interested to find out what was going on. I tried using all the tools available to a concerned citizen, so we can find out how this project started as an event to showcase Sand City’s history, heritage and culture and ended up being something else. After carefully studying many documents provided by the city, there are a few things we know about this event and some we don’t. And here they are.
We do know that on December 18, 2019 our City Manager Mr. Aaron Blair made a presentation to the Sand City Art Committee about a company he is familiar with, in Denver Colorado. Mr. Milbery the owner of Gnar – the company in question – was promptly flown in to make a presentation on organizing a Mural Festival at the next Art Committee meeting. Mr. Milbery subsequently presented a menu of different muralist he is familiar with for the Committee to choose from. We know that at this point, the Committee did not ask Gnar to work with Sand City Artists to create murals that would showcase Sand City’s history and culture. They rather chose a few of the artists from the menu presented by Gnar and invited them to come redo the same murals they had done elsewhere. We know that Gnar presented a budget proposal of $82,000 to the City Council. And we know the City Council unanimously voted to hire Gnar to create an art event showcasing the City’s culture and heritage. We know the local artists had to submit an application, for the much smaller murals, with an August 19th deadline. And we know there was suddenly a “special council meeting” on September 25th – the day before the festival’s opening – to approve Frank Signs as a second participant from Sand City. We also know the festival costed the city at least $65,000.
And the things we don’t know because the City says they don’t have to answer any questions.
We don’t know why no local companies or individuals were considered or interviewed to organize this event. We don’t know why there was no effort made to invite some local artists, as it was suggested to them in multiple occasions. We don’t know why before, voting to move forward with the event, no Council Member raised concern about having only one Sand City participant. We don’t know why the organization of this public event was kept so quiet. By mid August hardly any residents or businesses had heard anything about it. We also don’t know why on September 25th when the Council voted to invite another Sand City participant they did not extend that invitation to the other artists. And above all, we don’t know when, during the process, they decided to drop the theme of the City’s history and culture and go for whatever came.
Now we can see the only piece that has anything to do with the City’s history and culture is the small mural of the cat. Interesting how they had to spend $65,000 and go all over the country to find what was here to begin with. One must admit, it is much easier to spend someone else’s money.