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Cortez public arts committee meets for the first time

Group plans for three art projects this year
The Cortez public arts advisory committee holds its first meeting at the Cortez Public Library. Counter-clockwise from right: Eric Ikenouye, Sonja Horoshko, Brandon Shubert, Aaron LeMay, Kirbi Vaughn and Heidi Brugger.

The new Cortez public arts committee held its first official meeting on Monday and announced three art projects planned for 2018.

Appointed by the City Council in December, the board’s job is to advice the town about issues related to public art. On Monday, the committee’s first order of business was to appoint a chair, vice chair and secretary, and agree on a schedule for future meetings. They also agreed to start the planning process for the year’s first public art projects: a mural, a tree carving and a concert series.

Sonja Horoshko, one of the driving forces behind the committee’s formation, was appointed chairwoman, and musician Aaron LeMay was appointed vice chairman. Heidi Brugger will be the committee secretary.

Two members of the seven-person board – Dan Simplicio and student member Corinne Damore-Rome – were absent on Monday, and several people who did attend said their varied work schedules would limit their options for a regular meeting time. But after some discussion, they agreed to hold future meetings at 3:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. All meetings will most likely be held at the Cortez Public Library, unless otherwise announced on the city website.

Possible art projects the committee members have discussed in the past include a new mural, a music festival or concert series and a sculpture made from a dead tree in Montezuma Park. For each of these projects, the committee members agreed to form a temporary ad hoc committee made up of interested citizens with the expertise to plan them. The mural committee already exists, and Horoshko said she would represent the city on it. LeMay will head the music committee, and Brugger said she would represent the city on the tree committee.

“I believe that’s at a pivotal point with that park and how (the Cortez Retail Enhancement Association) was using it last summer, and how much focus came to that park,” Brugger said.

Horoshko said several Cortez residents have approached her with ideas for these and other projects. In the meantime, LeMay proposed that the public arts committee commission an economic impact study to prepare for the projects, similar to those he has conducted in the past for the Dolores River Festival.

The public arts committee is an advisory board that cannot pass any legislation, but Horoshko recommended the members stay as informed as possible about city issues, especially during the upcoming election. She also recommended they attend as many art-related events in Cortez as possible as a way to reach out to resident art enthusiasts. She said one upcoming show, a For Pets Sake fundraiser titled Animal Art Works, could give the committee some inspiration on how to organize the city’s own art fundraisers.

“The point of this is to train an audience to come to an exhibit and buy,” she said. “It would be really nice to get some community networking going through that format.”

Other things the committee hopes to achieve in the immediate future include setting up a way to raise money for art projects and creating a Facebook page.

The public arts committee will include an opportunity for public comment in all its meetings. As with all city advisory boards, its agendas and minutes will be posted on the City of Cortez website.

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