Beverly Hills is a world class city and should be filled with world class art. At least that’s the goal of the Fine Art Commission, according to Chair Judith Friedman.
“We want people to get an interest in art as they walk around the city,” Friedman said. “Maybe after they see the pieces we have on display and read the plaques, they’ll be inspired to do more research.”
The city acquires in two ways. It is either selected by the commission and purchased with money from the Fine Art Fund, or any developer of commercial, industrial or mixed-use real estate with a construction cost of more than $500,000 must place a piece of art on the property as part of Beverly Hills' Public Art Ordinance.
“Developers need to know what is expected of them if they want to build something in Beverly Hills,” Friedman said.
The art selected by the developer must meet four criteria of the ordinance:
- The fine art has the minimum value required by section 3-1-802 of the ordinance, which amounts to 1 percent of total construction costs.
- The fine art has been created by an established artist.
- The fine art has intrinsic quality and enduring value beyond any decorative characteristics.
- The fine art is compatible with and enhances the aesthetic quality of the building site.
If the developer’s selection of art meets these criteria, the commission must then approve the selection, Friedman said.
If the developer does not want to select a piece of art for the property, it must pay a required contribution of 1 percent of construction costs to the city’s Fine Art Fund so that the commission can purchase a piece.
“Contrary to what some local residents—including some public officials—believe, funds paid by the developer to the Fine Art Fund must be used for public art and no other purpose,” Friedman said.
Members of the Fine Art Commission travel the world at their own expense attending art shows and exhibits to find art that would enhance the city of Beverly Hills.
“We’re very well traveled and aware of what is hot in the art world,” Friedman said. “We bring back pictures and information for the rest of the commission to see.”
Each piece of art selected by the commission is also vetted by directors of local museums. After it is approved by the commission, it goes to the City Council for a vote, Friedman said.
Unless it has already been selected for a construction project, a location is then chosen for the piece.
“It must be in a location that is accessible to the general public,” Friedman said. “Also, we really focus on putting the art where it is going to encourage tourism.”
It is Friedman's hope that both visitors and residents take walking tours of the city to see the many pieces of public art on display.
“Don’t drive around the city. Walk around and really look at these pieces,” she said. “It takes some work, but it is worth the effort.”