Unhappy Landings

The money issues between APP and the airport remain unsettled. In addition to the $430,000 in disputed reimbursements, APP's director Vivian Rodriguez says the airport owes APP an additional $370,000 as its rightful percentage of construction projects. Elder is scheduled to attend the APP Trust meeting April 9 to discuss the money matters. Says Rodriguez: "There is room for negotiation."

Art in Public Places now has more than one million dollars in its airport account, says Rodriguez, as well as a firm resolve "to use Bob's master plan, and be guided by his philosophies" in future dealings with the airport. But it is not clear how much attention is being paid by anyone at the airport. Plans are now being drawn for the construction of concourses A and J. Richard Fleischner's plan to make Concourse A a subtropical jungle of fish and fowl is out; it, like most of the plans submitted by artists invited into the project by Irwin, was rejected by the APP's advisory committee as unfeasible and too costly.

Nonetheless, Rodriguez says that Elder has shown a willingness to include APP in some planning sessions, and that she expects artists will soon be invited to submit proposals for Concourse A. Antolin Carbonell, an airport architect who worked with Irwin on his master plan, says, "More important than any specific for a site, Irwin showed how a public agency and artists could have an impact on the development of public spaces."

Judy says he doubts that Elder understands Irwin's ideas, and charges his successor with reinventing the wheel with his own master plan. "Elder is bright enough," says Judy, "but he was running the parking garages. There is a lot to learn."

As for the Irwin plan: "If we had pulled it off, it would have been one of the most exciting things in the art world in years. We were taking art out of the museum and into everyday life. And we were getting it done."

Irwin, too, is wistful, wondering if he'll ever get so close again. "I'd love to have gotten the thing built; it is one of the best examples of what my thinking is," he says. "But it just wasn't to be. For the arts people to explain where the money went, we needed a little brick and mortar and we never got to that point. But it wasn't for naught. We got people thinking, stretched them in a way.

"If I dwelled on the projects that have gone down the drain, I'd be a basket case. This could have been the project I was searching for. I've done my homework, and if someone wants to do something like that in the future, I'm your man. I am the artist who can do something like that. And I took my advanced doctorate in that airport.

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