The spirit of cooperation

A few weeks ago we learned of a potential collision brewing downtown between a community art project and a popular commercial development.

For the past year, Wayne Cook has been restoring the old Diamond Hotel on Fourth Street between Salem and Broadway. For the past few months, two tile setters working in Diamond Alley, which runs next to Cook’s project, have been putting together a public art project designed by local artists Kathleen Nartuni and David Barta and featuring more than 4,000 ceramic tile designs created by local elementary-school kids.

Seems the art project—eight columns displaying the tiles—and the excited anticipation of the children artists were nearly put on a long and unwanted hold. Cook told the city the art project would have to be suspended until he finished his hotel, which at the earliest would be next April or May. He needed to bring a mechanical lift into the alley to carry equipment up to the top of his hotel. The finished art project would not allow enough room between the tile-adorned columns to get the lift in, Cook insisted.

City officials, including the community development director and the arts projects coordinator, were consulted. The tile setters said they would push ahead with the project—weather permitting—unless told to stop. And they did. The project is now nearly complete. The metal arch covering the four columns that sit next to the hotel will be carefully removed and then replaced by Cook as he puts the finishing touches on his hotel.

This happy ending speaks well of the town we live in and all of those involved.