Tiburon’s Town Council rejects sculpture

Tiburon’s Town Council rejected the offer of a long-term loan of the 55-foot sculpture Huru at a public hearing featuring poetry, art, comedy, pitched emotion and just about everything else except incivility. After hearing passionate pleas from about 30 people for and against the five-story-high sculpture by Mark di Suvero, an internationally acclaimed sculptor with Tiburon roots, the council members acknowledged the “magnificent gift,” but rejected it unanimously Wednesday “with great regret.” “This is about land use and what is appropriate for the land,” Councilman Jim Fraser said. “I struggled to find something in the general plan that would support structures in open space,” he told the standing-room-only crowd of about 200, “but I couldn’t.” Other council members cited the scale of the 17-ton sculpture, and Mayor Frank Doyle said he couldn’t find a place to put it that wouldn’t “have (the occupants) of 200 homes looking through it.” Emotions ran high over the offer from Carol McKegney, widow of Tiburon native Lowell McKegney, the son of early Tiburon civic leaders George and Betty McKegney. Huru supporters wore black-and-white tags reading, “HURU,” and there were many in attendance. Regardless, the meeting rolled along with good humor, with Doyle deadpanning at one point, “We decided to take Huru off the agenda,” setting off peals of laughter. Art Gensler, founder and head of world-renowned architectural firm Gensler and a decades-long Tiburon resident, spoke in favor. Gensler, one of the town’s earliest residents, said, “Way back when a bike path was first proposed, everybody said, ‘That will ruin Tiburon!’ You can’t freeze everything in time. Let’s not miss this great opportunity.” Neal Benezra, director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, told an affecting story of the sculptor’s life. Born in Shanghai, du Suvero sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge into the U.S., and grew up in Tiburon. The artist first conceived the idea of creating monumental sculpture when recovering from a horrific elevator accident that crushed his spine and left him disabled, Benezra said. “This is a teaching moment,” said Pamela Dekema, who has lived in Tiburon since 1994. “Mark di Suvero’s creations are fantastical creatures that can walk across the land. We hope you (the council) will continue to consider this.” Another longtime resident, Bob Dougherty, addressed his concerns in poetry. Advocating a sculpture park in Tiburon, “Who will come for just one sculpture on a trail? Dream with me of a sculpture park! This envisions our tale,” Dougherty entreated. Longtime resident Diane Green, a supporter of the structure, observed, “Huru has already made its presence felt,” referring to the fact that the sculpture became a hot topic around town after the Town Council rejected McKegney’s offer at its Oct. 1 meeting last year. Public outcry after the meeting landed the decision on Wednesday’s agenda. Opponents had their say as well. “I’ve seen electrical transmission towers as beautiful as this,” Harry Heath opined. “‘Huru’ means both hello and goodbye. Let’s hope this time it means goodbye.” “I raised my children here. I work at UCSF Mission Bay and encourage you to visit and walk around the sculptures there amid the tall buildings,” where di Suvero’s “Dreamcatcher” sculpture is displayed, said Deborah Greenspan. “But when I think about my love for Tiburon, its views of Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge with nothing between me and them, this is part of the magic of Tiburon. “This work with its boldness and grandeur will change the views. And I don’t want them to change,” Greenspan said. Speaker after speaker expressed respect for di Suvero and his accomplishments, while maintaining that the sculpture was out of scale for the town and would interfere with the views. After the last speaker addressed the issue, the council members weighed in. “Is this appropriate for use in our public open space? Our open space is supported by tax dollars,” said Fraser. “I agree,” said Councilwoman Alice Fredericks. “We value these open spaces, these views. This is a magnificent offer but for land use alone I am reluctant (to approve).” “There is no appropriate setting for something this scale in a small town,” said Councilman Emmett O’Donnell. “I can’t come up with a place (to put Huru) not in our open space. As much as I want to have it, I can’t make an exception,” said Councilwoman Erin Tollini. Huru supporter and Tiburon resident Nancy Riley was philosophical. “One of the main things people appreciate around here is the views and this is out of proportion,” Riley said. “I would like to see more art here, but if most people oppose it, I will go with that.” Dekema’s response reflected the same spirit. “That was a great meeting,” she said. “And we’ll all still be talking (to each other) tomorrow.” Links David N. Swaim Tam Realty Inc Owner DRE#1070789 415-710-5504 609 San Anselmo Ave San Anselmo CA 94960 www.tamrealty.com Serving all of Marin County

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