The monthslong quest to commission an art piece to commemorate the 40th anniversary of La Quinta's incorporation continues after the council took no action on approving one of three finalists selected by the Community Services Commission.

The city of La Quinta is still on the hunt for the perfect art piece to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the city’s 1982 incorporation.

The proposal to commission a piece of art came earlier this year after the city’s Civic Center Art Purchase committee decided to buy a single piece of art from the La Quinta Art Celebration instead of its usual two. After talking with city staff about the idea, a request for proposals was distributed to more than 200 artists who participated in the La Quinta Art Celebration.

“The call to artists encouraged artists to consider La Quinta’s history, culture, architecture, points of interest and notable public figures in their proposals,” Michael Calderon, community resources analyst, said. “Additionally, the call to artists asked artists for unique ideas that encapsulate the history of La Quinta.”

The city received nine responses, which were narrowed down to five by city staff and organizers of the La Quinta Art Celebration. The final three proposals presented to the council — by artists Jason and Nicole McQuaid, Aileen Frick and Erin Hansen — were chosen by the Community Services Commission.

The McQuaids proposed a blown glass sculpture in the shape of an agave cactus with 40 leaves ranging in height and color on a cement base to represent the city’s 40 years of incorporation. Frick proposed a mixed media piece that would incorporate both painting and collage work to depict a significant La Quinta location. Hansen proposed a painting of the Santa Rosa mountains split across three canvases using bold colors and depth of texture as an homage to the city’s history.

“It can’t just be, in my mind, a painting or a glass sculpture, or a this, and I don’t know how you depict, if it’s multiple artists, how you depict decades, you know, including the history of the Cahuilla leading to the resort leading to now that we combine all of that thought process and ideas into a single piece,” Mayor Linda Evans, who served on the art selection committee, said. “So, I’ll say that these are beautiful, but it’s not what I envisioned.”

Councilmember Robert Radi, who was also on the art selection committee, echoed Evans’ sentiments about wanting a multifaceted, collaborative piece that incorporates thoughts and perspectives from multiple artists to better encapsulate the city’s history.

“What does a 40 year anniversary piece look like for a city,” he asked. “I don’t know, but I can tell you when I see it.”

The commissioned artwork was originally expected to be displayed in city hall, in the city’s incorporation exhibit, but the council asked city staff to look into other places where it could be on display in a more publicly accessible location.

“If we’re going to use that exhibit hall to put this piece up, the space needs to be dedicated first so that the artists can see what space they’re dealing with,” Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Fitzpatrick said. “Because as much as I like the glass piece, I cannot picture doing a glass piece that’s 5 feet high in that exhibit hall.”

Ultimately, the council took no action on the item but directed city staff to gather more information about potential locations for the piece and work with the Community Services Commission to rework the call to artists to encourage collaboration and include more information about the scope of the project while keeping the budget in the $15,000 to $20,000 range.

“As beautiful as these pieces are, they’re just not quite there,” Fitzpatrick said. “If you want something that says 40 years of history, we’re not quite there yet.”

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