For some it might seem like a deja-vu of the Superior Ice Sculpture situation from almost ten years ago. But there are some important differences.

The City of Superior is finalizing plans that would pay "world-renowned artist" Guido van Helten $467,147 in fees - curating what "could become the city's largest public art project". While no contracts have been signed at this time, the City Council agreed to enter in a "memorandum of understanding" to move the project forward. The vote was unanimous according to details shared in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall].

Van Helten specializes in painting murals that have been showstoppers in the other communities that he's worked for. These murals are large in size - usually painted on the sides of buildings or other pieces of infrastructure. And when it comes to detail, van Helten paints with a technique that makes the murals look real - almost like a photograph.

But like anything else, it takes money. Under terms of the memorandum of understanding, van Helten's fees - totaling almost $500,000 - would come from fundraising and grant money. During the conversation and vote at the City Council meeting, Superior Mayor Jim Paine was careful to point out that the fees wouldn't be coming directly from municipal taxpayers:

"Most of this cost should be raised through fundraising.  There's no city money being designated.  If they want city money, they'll go through the regular grant process."

The Mayor went on to share that in other communities, van Helten's fees have been provided for using those means. He also suggested that "possible sources of funding could include the public art fund or grants available through rooms taxes administered by the tourism development commission".

The vote to enter into the memorandum of understanding between the City and van Helten will allow both sides to "put together a plan to find a location and raise money for the project".

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