New program seeks art for City Hall

The City of Odessa and a local arts nonprofit will begin taking submissions this week from artists under a new program that will showcase works in City Hall.

The Cultural Arts Program Exhibition Series, approved recently by the Odessa City Council, will acquire pieces on a year-long loan and display them on the fifth floor of City Hall, where the elected officials meet. After the loan period, the city will have the option to buy one of the pieces per year using hotel/motel tax money, but so far city officials say any cost of the program will be minimal.

Interim City Manager Michael Marrero said the city wants to build a collection of art owned by the city.

“Our hope is that we just not have it at City Hall, but we have it on this floor, every other floor and every other building that the city owns, giving a forum for the artists here to display their art,” Marrero said.

Marrero and the Odessa Council for the Arts and Humanities, which recently rebranded as Odessa Arts, modeled the program after one in Austin. The program follows a $500,000 renovation of City Hall approved last year that included remodeling City Council chambers on the fifth floor. The walls today are blank.

“There’s a lot of space in City Hall to fill — There’s a lot of space to put art,” arts council Executive Director Randy Ham said. “…It’s going to be a really great way to showcase the talent we have right here in Odessa.”

Anticipated submissions will include photography by Odessa College faculty members Beckwith Thompson and Steve Goff, who presented pictures of flowers during the City Council meeting last week.

Works chosen for public display will be selected by a committee still being formed that will include Marrero, Ham and other city officials. Ham said the committee would consider two-dimensional art first, with sculptures likely too cumbersome for City Hall’s fifth floor. The city will accept submissions for six weeks via the website, Ham said.

“People can go into City Hall and say ‘Hey, that’s my granddaughter’s painting’ or ‘That’s my friend’s’, and it’s better to be able to say something like that versus ‘This a great picture, we know the name, but we don’t know who they are,” District 5 City Councilman Filiberto Gonzales said. “If it’s somebody that was raised here or that lives here and they give back to the community, why not do the same thing for them.”

Odessa College photography faculty members Beckwith Thompson and Steve Goff showed Odessa City Council members two pieces they plan to submit for a new program that will showcase works of local artists at City Hall.

Photos Courtesy of Beckwith Thompson and Steve Goff

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