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Greyhound media relations manager Tim Stokes told Crosscut that “there's nothing that's been finalized” with the relocation, but he declined to react to Licata's comment or get into specifics on any aspect of the quandary.
The obvious option of finding another site for the work evaporated early on in the process.
“There's no money for that,” Zoccola said.
That leaves her installation, so to speak, up against the wall.
“I don't see any way that it [the terminal] isn't going to block the artwork,” she said. “I made it so that it could be seen from the freeway and Sound Transit trains, and by the pedestrians going to the stadiums. It's a great location for this piece of art. Greyhound is building the building four feet from the artwork. Maybe a cat could see the piece.”
In a Sept. 4 letter to Greyhound and WSDOT, Zoccola, who holds a copyright on the work, asserted “the right to prevent the intentional distortion and modification of my artwork,” given that Greyhound's design “violates my rights under the [federal] Visual Artists Rights Act.” She told Crosscut she has taken her woes to Washington Lawyers for the Arts, a volunteer group. “They're exploring the possibility that I would have some intellectual property rights for the piece, that I could probably make a stink that they'd basically be cutting off the view of the piece.”
Asked what she might do if Greyhound gets all the necessary green lights to proceed, she said, in a tone less belligerent than her words might seem, “I've been holding that card to my chest. I still have the opportunity to file my suit, and I'm not giving up on that threat. ... I don't know. Without the support of the city of Seattle I feel I don't have much strength.
“I'm not anti-Greyhound — it's just seems unfortunate that another site couldn't be found.”
Should an artist who has sold a work to the public, for installation on a transit agency's building, expect to have a say in the handling of the public need for transportation, to have the last word over what happens to a work that someone else owns? As the piece's owner, King County has taken no official position on the case. If Zoccola were to take her arguments to court, Brunner said, “I don't know where we'd come down.”
Brunner's office has inquired with colleague agencies as to any precedents for the standoff, but has learned of only one analogous case, from Vancouver, B.C. In that instance the developer paid a $500,000 mitigation to the city's public art program. The work in question stayed put, but the grant allowed for its “complete refurbishment,” according to the city's public art program manager, Bryan Newson, whose statement Brunner forwarded to Crosscut.
“The thing that makes [the Greyhound site] tricky is that we don't own the land,” Brunner said, “and it's a view impact. ... Greyhound is not proposing to physically alter the piece of art. I think it's more about public investment, view protection, the value of the art on the site.”
Bryan Stevens, spokesman for the city's Department of Planning and Development, said that a development permit for the site could be issued as early as year's end, clearing the path for construction. WSDOT's Abernathy anticipated that Greyhound would then install a modular terminal in order to fast-track construction and thus open the facility by the April eviction deadline. That would remove any need for the company to negotiate a short-term extension on its Stewart Street lease.
“The deadline's going to be really tight,” he said.
The apparent backing of a pro-transit mayor works in Greyhound's favor, and may prove the difference between this rhubarb and the brouhaha that left the waterfront streetcar in mothballs in 2005. Public art may have to move to the back of the bus.
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