More Angst over Planned Arena Art

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SACRAMENTO-

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for Sacramento painter Tim Collom that beauty is the inspiration California provides.

"This is Laguna Beach. I did this back in 2011," he said proudly eyeing a piece on the wall of his midtown gallery.

Despite his normal focus, he can appreciate other perspectives - even when they're from New York and set to take center stage at what will be a signature structure for Sacramento - the new Kings arena.

"I think as far as bringing in an international icon like Jeff Koons, I think it's really important for our community," he said.

Collom is one of the few art voices speaking up in favor of a proposed $7.5 million Koons piece, chosen to adorn the outside of the arena.

A string of other opposing voices spoke up loudly Tuesday at a City Council meeting.

"You're telling the world we're not good enough...telling the world we need Koons!" screamed artist Marco Fuoco.

One after another, they also spoke pointedly - even though the Koons contract isn't officially up for debate for another week and council members could not discuss the matter.

Merle Axelrad brought up Koons' trouble with repeat copyright lawsuits.

"He has lost three out of four. Do we want to support an artist whose integrity is questionable vis a vis this copyright issue," she questioned as applause filled the council chamber.

Many in the crowd also take issue with the fact that local artists were not allowed to compete for the featured installation decided on by a panel convened by the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.

"The objective is to create a collection that is representative of a lot of different ideas," said commission director Shelly Willis.

City spokeswoman Linda Tucker said in a statement issued last week that as far as the panel or the commission is concerned "neither are obligated to review multiple proposals."

An unprecedented $1.5 million donated dollars will commission multiple works by local artists to be placed around the arena, but to some that's just not enough.

"It's an economically bad decision to take the business out of Sacramento. It needs to stay here where we need it," said Debra Desrosiers.

The only comment Mayor Kevin Johnson made Tuesday about the public art outcry is that those who'd come to the podium had made their position "clear."

The official council debate and vote on the Koons contract is set for March 10th.

The proposal process for the $1.5 million of local art has yet to begin.