the lobby of the County Commons building in Frisco is getting a face-lift, and the Summit County Arts and Exhibit Committee is looking for donations from the community to generate matching funds from a local grant.
Sue Paluska, member of the committee and chairwoman for the project, applied for the grant this past spring and received a generous amount of money from The Summit Foundation, she said.
“Part of it was to cover all of the lighting installation and fixtures,” Paluska said. “The second portion, which was a little more than half, was a matching grant for other aspects of the project. We have all the lighting done, it’s up and in place, and officially all of the bills are paid.”
Having the first part of the plan complete and fully funded is a victory for the committee, but there are other stages to the project that could benefit from the matching funds if donors are willing to contribute.
Changing the space
Paluska said that in order to create a plan for the County Commons, the committee had to first look at the space and see how it could be manipulated and then go through the proper channels in the county to ensure the changes would comply with building and fire codes.
Two fire extinguishers were moved and the slots dry-walled over to open up a wall for hanging art, and flat ceiling lights were installed so the natural scenery outside is now more visible. Track lighting was also installed to better illuminate the art that will eventually hang on the walls, and other dry-wall work was necessary where lights were hung and switches moved.
One of the main goals, Paluska said, was to make a more inviting entry area for the public, starting with moving the public bulletin board case to a more prominent location in the entrance area. The current display cases are also being enhanced with new wood finishes, improved glass and interior lighting. In addition, two smaller cases will be added, and the east and west walls will be painted and accents added on the south wall behind the cases.
“Our woodworker is going to take the display cases away and fix them up and put some lighting in the cases,” she said. “They’ll be raised up a little bit and have a top on them. He’ll place moldings so it’ll look like they are part of the wall instead of just put in there.”
The woodworker will probably be finished with his work sometime in November, Paluska said. Right now, there are a lot of blank spaces ready for paint.
“There’s wallpaper on one wall that is a heavy duty, almost like a carpet paper,” she said. “Initially, they thought it was going to help avoid holes in the walls when they tacked up paintings, but unfortunately, because of the nails that were used and everything else, it’s very spotted.”
The team tried to have the carpet wall cleaned but wasn’t very successful, so the decision was made to take it down and paint the wall. The carpet was hung with an adhesive that requires a specialist to remove, but Paluska said it doesn’t cost much more to have it taken down than it would to attempt to clean it again.
After all of the paint has dried, the final touch will be installing an art-hanging system of floor-to-ceiling rods similar to that found in most galleries.
A mini museum
The purpose of the renovation is to open up all of the possible space in the lobby to hang art, 95 percent of which will come from local artists. The other 5 percent, Paluska said, will be open to special exhibits and work from other areas. The committee is in the processes of collecting contact information for local artists to encourage them to display their work in the new space.
“Once this project is known, our hope is to have — in conjunction with our formal display on the wall and in the cases — we want to have a yearly display in the spots we’ve opened up,” she said. “We invite them to come look at the space and submit a piece of art for the area. That’s the way we’d like to fill up some of these other spots, and we’re hoping that we’ll get some wonderful submissions. Every year, we’ll rotate that type of art.”
Paluska said she hopes that once artists see the exhibit area, they will want to be a part of it. She said the idea is to create more of an art museum than a gallery, with no sales pressure and no posted prices for the pieces, though interested buyers could purchase the art through the artists themselves.
“It’s a community spot,” she said. “It’s going to be a free spot for people to come bring their friends and just enjoy some of the art in the area. … To have an art museum in Summit County would be so expensive. We can’t afford the land, and then to do it would be a terrific expense. At the same time, we have this terrific space, this window that frames this mountain, wonderful angles. Why should Summit County be a stepsister to a city that has a little more money? We have plenty of art here — let’s show it off.”