Naperville might take bigger role in public art

  • The sculpture of Naperville founder Joseph Naper is one of 47 pieces of public art Century Walk Corp. has installed around the city.

      The sculpture of Naperville founder Joseph Naper is one of 47 pieces of public art Century Walk Corp. has installed around the city. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • "Naperville Loves a Parade" is the 47th work of public art Century Walk has created in the city since 1996. Century Walk is asking the city council to give it about $200,000 a year for the next three years to fund maintenance and new artwork.

      "Naperville Loves a Parade" is the 47th work of public art Century Walk has created in the city since 1996. Century Walk is asking the city council to give it about $200,000 a year for the next three years to fund maintenance and new artwork. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/17/2015 4:29 PM

Naperville City Council members might be willing to take responsibility for maintaining the city's Century Walk public art pieces, but they have some questions first.

Who owns the 47 pieces of art Century Walk has created since 1996? Who is liable if those pieces are damaged? What expertise is necessary to maintain art?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Council members are awaiting answers to those and other questions from Brand Bobosky, Century Walk Corp.'s founder and chairman, who is seeking roughly $200,000 a year during a three-year agreement he hopes to form with the city.

During a meeting of Naperville's advisory cultural commission, Bobosky said he hopes to get three years of guaranteed money to fund maintenance and creation of more art. Then, he said, he would like Century Walk to merge with the city into a quasi-municipal entity.

"We need to start maintaining the art and we want to create some more," Bobosky said. "But we eventually would like this to be taken over by the city like the (Naper) Settlement and the Riverwalk."

Becky Anderson, advisory cultural commission chairwoman, said the group supports the idea but wants to move carefully. She said the panel is recommending the city give Century Walk $105,000 this year and then let the council work out other details of the proposed agreement during a March workshop.

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Steve Chirico, the council member who is a liaison to the advisory cultural commission, said it's logical to begin discussions about who will take care of Century Walk's murals, sculptures and other pieces.

"It makes some sense to have the maintenance of this public art be funded on a more regular basis as opposed to on an 'ask' basis," Chirico said. "We either let it deteriorate, or we take care of it."

Council member David Wentz said his questions center around who actually owns the art.

Bobosky said he is preparing a document for the city to specify who owns each piece.

"We really don't own any of the art. We create it and pay for it, but then it belongs basically to the property owner, which is where we start," Bobosky said. "If we don't have a wall or a place to put a sculpture, we don't create the art."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Three works of Century Walk art are at schools in Naperville Unit District 203, for example, and three are on Naperville Public Library sites. The organization has placed art at Naper Settlement, along the Riverwalk, and at the Community Concert Center in Central Park, which is city-owned. Private property owners, such as Steve Rubin, own some sites where murals like "Naperville Loves a Parade" are painted.

Council member Joe McElroy said Century Walk's request for roughly $200,000 a year is a little high, but the move to a "maintenance mode" mirrors the city's shift from a high-growth phase to a period of redevelopment.

"I'm glad to hear that they are moving into maintenance mode," McElroy said, "making sure we take care of what we already have."

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