San Luis Obispo City Council may approve public art projects

San Luis Obispo might be adorned with more art around town if the City Council approves three public-art projects Tuesday.

If approved, an 11-foot bronze sculpture of an American Indian reaching up to the sky called “Oh Great Spirit” would be placed on city-owned property at the corner of South Higuera Street and Prado Road.

The sculpture was created by Nell Banister Scruggs of Woodland Hills and donated by the Ernst family. The piece — which represents the connection among people, plants, medicine and health — is valued at $90,000.

Another piece that has not yet been created would be placed at the Meadow Park Community Garden, and a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would be placed at the city’s Dispatch Center.

The projects are part of the city’s Visual Arts in Public Places program, which was set up in 1990.

It was expanded in 2000 when the Public Art in Private Development Program was adopted. That requires property owners and developers to include art in new developments or in improved developments around the city, or pay a public art “in-lieu fee.”

Revenue from the in-lieu fee is accumulated to pay for public art projects.

There are now 35 pieces of art in the city program, according to Betsy Kiser, San Luis Obispo parks and recreation director.

“The program really contributes to the culture and personality of San Luis Obispo,” she said.

For the fiscal years 2009-2011, the city has $290,000, including donations, available for the creation, installation and maintenance of public art.