North Charleston is going ahead with a $5,000 art commission to create a mural about the city’s history, but is no longer sure where to put it.
The city planned to install what would be a specially printed 140-foot by 40-foot mural on an elevated tank near the end of East Montague Avenue, but officials balked at the $87,000 installation cost, and had concerns that mural would be hard to see.
“I think that what we were about to do was waste some good art and some public money,” Councilman Ron Brinson said at a meeting Thursday night.
Mayor Keith Summey said the city hopes to work out a deal to put the mural on a different tank that would be visible from the East Montague business district, but he said that’s not a sure thing.
“Right now, I’m not willing to pay the money to put it on the tank we’ve got,” he said.
The tank that was the planned mural site is owned by Odfjell Terminals Charleston, a bulk liquid marine terminal which handles chemical, vegetable and petroleum products. The company had agreed to allow the installation.
Some council members questioned the need for the project, and the cost.
Finance Committee Chairman Bobby Jameson noted that the mural would be expected to last 7 years, which works out to more than $1,000 a month for the installation. The Bourne Group of North Charleston had been the only bidder on the job, but City Council decided to not award the contract.
Councilman Dwight Stigler said the city shouldn’t be spending money on such a project anyway, considering that the latest budget included a property tax increase.
“I kept saying, look, I know there is somewhere we could trim some money,” Stigler said. “This is a great example.”
With the exception of Stigler, and council members Sam Hart and Dot Williams who were not present for the vote, the City Council voted to go ahead with the $5,000 mural commission and hold off on deciding what to do with the resulting art.
North Charleston artist James Hill, 47, won the mural commission after the city sought graphic artists for the project in June. He has done research and produced early renderings of the project, which is due to be finished by Aug. 31.
“It’s a very complex piece, so it requires a lot of attention to detail, historic research, plus technical knowledge,” Hill said in an interview prior to the council meeting.
His final product will be delivered as a computer file that can be printed at the enormous size required for the tank or similar location. Charleston-area residents may have seen some of Hill’s work including the mural on the Planet Follywood restaurant, a jungle scene mural at Cypress Gardens, and paintings in the downtown Charleston Mellow Mushroom restaurant.
Hill said he’s been enjoying the opportunity the project has given him to delve into North Charleston history.
Now, the city will just need to find a place to put Hill’s mural.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.