“I HATE this!”
That was the critique from the spokesman for the City of Eagle design selection panel when shown my finished design for a traffic box commission. A commission which I had been told was all but a “done deal” and one which just needed to be shown to the panel for final approval.
A few months before this I had completed the “Eagle’s Nest” painted bench for the City of Eagle, but the completion of the traffic box project had been delayed. Meanwhile the person in charge encouraged me to go ahead and do the artwork so the selection panel would actually be able to “see” my work instead of just my description of what I would do.
So, I went ahead and did the work…
And completely finished the design. To scale. Just like I’ve done for all the other traffic boxes I’ve successfully designed for the cities of Boise, and Nampa, Idaho.
I had recently completed the Public Art project for Zoo Boise’s Gorongosa Exhibit in which I’d placed animal and bird busts on patterns inspired by Mozambican Capulanas, and my thought was to use that same conceit for the traffic box. I placed the bust of a Bald Eagle on a pattern of an Americana quilt. A similar quilt pattern was used on the sides, as well as the reverse where I had a flying Bald Eagle lifting the edge of yet another quilt revealing 50 stars. Eagles, Americana, Red, White & Blue. Yay! USA!
And then with Mike’s help we photographed actual traffic boxes in Eagle and then photoshopped my design onto those photos:
And it was rejected.
I guess you can’t please everyone, though you sure as hell can learn how to critique constructively. Good thing I’ve got many years of experience under my belt and knew better than to take this rejection personally. I’m not so sure a brand new participant in the world of Public Art Commissions would be as resilient however. A competent selection panel would know that.