Approximately nine area arts community administrators and educators attended a meeting on Monday at City Hall to discuss how to proceed with commissioning artwork to add to the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge. The City of Amsterdam currently has $650,000 in grant money to spend on additional improvements to the waterfront area. Some of that money will be allocated to building an information center and restroom facility, but the remainder will be used to create public artwork in two circular spaces at both the north and south entrances to the bridge.
The meeting was attended by Congressman Paul Tonko, as well as Mayor Michael Villa, Engineer Rich Miller, and Historian Rob von Hasseln. Former mayor Ann Thane also attended. The meeting was chaired by Kelly Quist-Demars, constituent representative for Tonko.
“I’m not an artist, but it’s wonderful to see such a gathering on behalf of the city and this project,” said Villa. “For me, this is about putting the best minds together to come up with the best ideas to put the best artwork on this bridge, so that we become a real draw, a draw that we hope brings us economic growth, brings us people to the bridge, to our community, to the south side.”
“We need experts to lead us to the artists that will offer their renderings in some sort of process, and you know theses processes better than us,” said Tonko. “How do you formulate that? How does this committee guide us? How do you do the outreach to potential artists? How do they offer their renderings, and then the process by which we select?”
Judie Gilmore, an independent arts consultant, and director of the Breathing Lights project, urged officials to put more specifics down on paper. She suggested that the city produce a four-page brief, specifying the dimensions of the artwork space, the budget, pictures of the site, as well as a background summary and vision for the project.
As an example, Gilmore asked, “Do you want a gateway piece, that is beautiful and that can be seen from afar? Or do you want a subtle interpretation piece?”
After the meeting, attendees traveled to the pedestrian bridge and were given a walking tour of the bridge, the art spaces on either side, and the Riverlink Park.