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DISMANTLING SHINE, SHIMMER, & SPARKLE
The City of Goodyear grapples with decision to decommission thousands of dollars of public art... created by a renowned artist.
Oh, boy. What started out as curiosity over a few structures of artwork in Goodyear has a dramatic plot twist. The mystery involves an artist… who is well-known herself in the tech world and the wife of a reported billionaire.
Her art cost Goodyear taxpayers more than $60,000… which now needs thousands of dollars more to repair or remove.
The fine art in question is nestled behind Roscoe Dog Park, south of MC-85 on Estrella Parkway. The once-sparkling, taxpayer-funded structures were hailed as “shimmering gems.”
Today, the shine and sparkle sit in what appears to be filth and disrepair.
When purchased 10 years ago, I wonder if the City of Goodyear took into consideration the $60K artwork - created using salvaged materials - could deteriorate, rot and rust due to the harsh Arizona weather.
ABOUT THE ART & ARTIST
The artist, Marta Thoma Hall, created her pieces using recycled glass. This article describes how, “Marta Thoma was asked to create a sculpture out of “reclaimed materials” during an artist residency … she wasn’t sure what to make of the mounds of objects most people would qualify as trash.”
Hall’s creations in Goodyear - named “WATER SOURCE” and “GILA BLUE” - were installed in 2011 near the Goodyear Public Works Administration Building and the dog park.
The City of Goodyear website explains, “Water Source was inspired by water, its importance and source, to create this large-scale curvilinear sculpture. Colored glass bottles - leftover remnants of mass production - echo the nearby Gila River and become shimmering gems in the sunlight. The sculpture is lit with solar-powered LED lights.”
The question is… should these pieces have ever been placed at an exterior location?
December 2022: This is the shade structure near the Public Works Building.
December 2022: The colorful glass bottles have no closures and are now filled with dirt.
(Water Source, in particular, was, built “at Big Art Studios, aka the American Steel building in West Oakland, California.” LINK TO VIDEO)
December 2022: Here is one of the bases of Water Source. It appears rocks are placed to obstruct view of the structure at 4-5 different points.
OTHER CITIES. OTHER TROUBLES.
As it turns out, Sonoran Alliance’s concerns may have been valid. Goodyear’s art structures aren’t the only pieces created by Marta Thoma Hall showing signs of age.
We’ve discovered TWO additional cities dealing with artwork complications created by the same artist. Here… Palo Alto removed Marta Thoma’s “Go Mama” in 2018.
City of Palo Alto City Staff Report LINK
Our [Palo Alto] Public Art Master Planning consultants had the following to write about “Go Mama”: Because fencing the sculpture will compromise both the streetscape and the work; and because the artwork is poorly fabricated, it should be considered for deaccession.
In 2018, San Jose issued a maintenance report for its public art. A piece created by Marta Thoma - which looks similar to Goodyear’s Water Source - needs repairs for concrete cracking at the cost of $3,500.
San Jose presentation from 2018
LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION.
At the expense of the taxpayers, maybe such art would have fared better indoors?
Marta Thoma Hall has pieces of art located in at least half a dozen cities. LINK
You can view two examples of her creations placed indoors. They’re absolutely beautiful and well-preserved!!
Marta Thoma Hall’s stunning artwork installed INDOORS in the Walnut Creek Library in California.
More of her creativity INDOORS in Florida at Howard Hall. LINK
WHO IS THE ARTIST?
In a bizarre twist… we found Marta Thoma Hall is married to David Hall. In April 2020, Forbes Magazine listed his net worth at $1B. Hall was the Co-founder and CEO of Velodyne Lidar “which makes LIDAR sensors crucial for the operation of autonomous vehicles,” states The Verge.
In 2018, Mart Thoma Hall - as president of Velodyne - was in the news regarding the self-driving car accident in Tempe, Arizona.
The recent fatal crash involving an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Arizona, has sent waves through the automotive industry, which has been pushing for the rapid development and adoption of autonomous driving technology.
Marta Thoma Hall, president of Velodyne, a major Lidar supplier, has stated that she is unsure why the vehicle wouldn't have stopped. Based on information provided by the company's Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) system, darkness shouldn't have affected its operation. CNET
Forbes Magazine provides this bio of Marta Thoma Hall as an artist.
Other than the billionaire connection, Hall has the résumé of a bleeding-heart liberal. Born to two professors in Nebraska, she says moved to California as a teenager, got involved in anti-Vietnam protests and attended the University of California at Berkeley. In 2006, her husband, David, who doesn’t have as much of an interest in politics, patented a sensor that would allow self-driving cars to detect their surroundings. Twelve years later the value of his stake in Velodyne reached an estimated $1 billion. Marta Thoma Hall is the head of business development at the company while moonlighting as a sculptor. In the past, she has made public art installations out of recycled steel and glass bottles. Now she says she’s working on 3D-printing art about “female identity and the environment,” states Forbes’ writer Michela Tindera.
More recent press describe woes for the couple…
PRESS RELEASE: Velodyne Lidar Announces Changes to Board of Directors and Management Team; Names New Chairman and Chief Marketing Officer
Feb 22, 2021 | By Velodyne Lidar
The investigation concluded that Mr. Hall and Ms. Hall each behaved inappropriately with regard to Board and Company processes, and failed to operate with respect, honesty, integrity, and candor in their dealings with Company officers and directors… They will remain members of the Company’s Board of Directors. Press Release
*TO RESERVE SPACE IN THIS BLOG, WE’VE COMPILED PRESS ARTICLES ABOUT MARTA THOMA HALL FOR YOU TO REVIEW HERE.
-CITY OF GOODYEAR RESPONSE-
“Arts and Culture” fall under the umbrella of the Goodyear Parks and Recreation Department.
Guylene Ozlanski, MFA, is the Arts & Culture Administrator through the Parks and Recreation Department at the City of Goodyear.
Guylene says she did not know of Ms. Hall’s other business dealings. And to note: None of Hall’s other business dealings have anything to do with the City of Goodyear. Goodyear seems to ONLY be connected to Hall through the Water Source & Gila Blue artwork.
More than 10 years ago, the then-Goodyear Arts and Culture five-member panel and other professionals chose Marta Thoma among more than 80 designers who responded to Goodyear’s “Call-to-Artists” for the project.
Guylene was not employed at Goodyear when the Water Source and Gila Blue structures were installed. And it’s my opinion she’s in a tough spot having to deal with the decline of these structures now.
Today, Guylene acknowledges the art created by Marta Thoma Hall is deteriorating and explains the original intent for the works of art. The shade structure at the water building was meant to be a “space where children on field trips” could find a cool spot to gather and enjoy lunch.
Now that those field trips are few and far between, the city is considering decommissioning the shade structure. It’s a move she says she would have liked to avoid because she understands these are City dollars at stake.
Guylene Ozlanski says while the materials being propped up outdoors may not have been the best choice for the long-term, the shade structure has definitely “hit its life expectancy.”
She says she doesn’t want to put good money in after bad and the artist is not available. “It’s hard to maintain and the artist won’t come out.”
How much will it cost to decommission these pieces? We don’t know, yet.
The Water Source art in question is located off the road. And while there’s value in keeping it up, says Guylene, there’s a cost for refurbishing and the current materials could eventually rot through.
We are meeting with our Facilities team on this and we are in our budget season. A plan is being created to identify the most efficient and cost effective way to decommission the components attached to the Public Works building. For Water Source (sculpture by dog park), we plan on continuing to maintain. I have an email out to Marta to see what it would take to get new painted bottles strung on the piece. Once we have a an idea of costs for replacement of this component we can make a fiscally responsible decision on next steps.
-Guylene Ozlanski, MFA, Arts & Culture Administrator, Parks and Recreation Department, City of Goodyear, Arizona | December 20, 2022
Guylene explained to me public art appeals to businesses who want to locate here and the Arts & Culture folks want to be intentional about where the money goes.
Goodyear’s more current art projects are “placed where people gather” - like near the new City Center.
A BUDGET FOR THAT
Goodyear’s Arts and Parks Capital Improvement Program Summary for Fiscal years 2018-2027 may be found online. LINK
The City allows “up to” 1% of the City budget to be devoted to Arts and Culture Administration. Those monies do NOT have to be spent each year.
FY2023 Annual Budget Operating Expenditures show the amount for Arts and Culture is $1,523,000.
JEN’S TWO CENTS
I have put in several emails into Marta Thoma Hall for a comment. I’ve attempted to reach her through her website, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
(Hall’s website “Contact” page shows an error when trying to send a message. No phone number is provided.)
Until we get a response from Hall, we’ll watch Goodyear City Council agendas to see if the topic of the Water Source & Gile Blue art structures pop up.
I’ve also put in two messages to the Water Source structure builder, Ryon Gesink.
THE NUMBERS. Click on the graphics to go directly to the City of Goodyear documents.