ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - An expensive and long-delayed piece of public art for the Albuquerque Balloon Museum is close to approval, but the art isn't coming from New Mexico.
The proposed art project will cost $137,000.
The design called Sky Portal is in essence a giant compass with a circle of two dozen poles suspending a reflective silver ring. It will be the first piece of big-scale public art at the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum .
"When balloonists are flying over they'll be able to get their direction," said Matt Carter, project manager for the city of Albuquerque Public Art Program . "Even when there's not any balloonist flying over, it's going to have this great reflective quality that will capture the clouds of the sky.
"It will be very inviting for people to come out of the museum."
But Randy Walker , the artist behind it, is from Minneapolis, Minn., raising the question of whether the project will even have a local economic impact.
"He's going to be working with local contractors, local installers, local business people to get the piece installed and put up," Carter told KRQE News 13. "So it's not just an out-of-state artist. It's an out-of-state artist employing a lot of New Mexico businesses."
The project is being paid for entirely by city and state dollars, so the money can't go elsewhere. Ten New Mexicans were among the 64 artists who applied.
"The arts selection committee reviewed the prospectuses that were put out and narrowed it down to this final piece," Carter said.
Opening the bid up ensures New Mexico's artists will have the opportunity to get more work, he added.
"I think what we try to do is the interstate-commerce effect where we invite out-of-state artists to come out, particularly on projects of this size, to apply for, such as other states would do for our new Mexico artists," Carter said.
Albuquerque Public Art says it chose to do this project now over others because it had been delayed so long.
The city put it on hold for two years because of the deaths of local balloonists Richard Abruzzo and flying partner Carol Rymer Davis of Denver. Both died during an international gas-balloon race in 2011 when a storm drove their craft into the Aegean See off the east coast of Italy.
The Albuquerque City Council is tentatively set to take a final vote on the art project on Monday. If it passes Public Art hopes to have it built before this year's Balloon Fiesta , which begins on Oct. 5.
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