Arts Commissioner Quits Over Solar Web

By Jorge Casuso

Arts Commissioner Helen K. Garber has submitted her resignation to protest the City Council's rejection of the "Solar Web," a large sculpture slated for the southern edge of Santa Monica beach.

In a letter dated Nov. 17, Garber - a Venice photographer - said she was "completely discouraged" by the council's September 28 vote to veto the astronomical jungle-gym. The work - dreamed up by local arts champion Bruria Finkel and designed by world-renown artist Nancy Holt -- had wound its way through boards and commissions for 15 years.

"If Bruria Finkel, one of the originators of the Arts Commission, can be stopped after such a long passionate plea for one piece of artwork," Garber wrote, "what can I expect to accomplish during my term? I am completely discouraged to even try.

"I have too many daily frustrations in running an arts business for me to be able to deal with the added futility of serving as an Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Monica."

Garber's letter comes two weeks after Commission Chair Jorge Pardo sent a two-page letter to the council expressing his "shock, dismay and incomprehension" over its 4 to 3 vote to kill the "sun-star shaped" 70-foot-long sculpture. Pardo urged council members to consider creating a temporary "Solar Web."

Pardo said that the council's rejection of a project that had the support of hundreds of citizens and government representatives had put the commission in the "embarrassingly awkward" position of having to return $75,000 in arts funding.

Pardo hopes to resurrect the issue during a commission meeting next month.