Meeting Minutes – October 12, 2021

City of Syracuse Heritage Park Advisory Commission

Meeting Minutes

October 12, 2021

The meeting was held via Zoom.

Introduction. A Heritage Park Commission member (CM) began the meeting at 3:33 pm by acknowledging the unceded Onondaga land Syracuse currently resides on.  CM members working on the Haudenosaunee educational component were thanked for an enlightening conversation.  CMs were encourage to go to the Heritage Park website to provide feedback and to keep gathering feedback from their stakeholders.  

It was reiterated that CMs are requested not to speak to the media as part of the Heritage Park Commission, and that all media requests should go through the facilitators or the City.  The message must be clear and transparent.  The Commission must present a unified message and not feed into the misinformed position that Heritage Park can only move forward with the removal of Columbus.

Monument Discussion.  Many CMs found recent presentations on monuments (Ana Tiburzi’s “Monuments and the Politics of Memory” and Monument Lab presentation) illuminating and hope to be able to show these to the public to fuel discussion.  These could be presented to groups that already hold public forums.  The Monument Lab presentation is already available to the public, and CMs have access to Ms. Tiburzi’s presentation.

Minutes.  Previous minutes for this commission will be edited to remove names of CMs so they can be published.  No CMs were opposed.  

A CM wanted to make sure the public understands how long different commissions have been working on this issue and which groups are involved.  Commission facilitators will make sure to address this when speaking to the press.

RFP Parameters. A CM mentioned the significance of weather and seasons in this part of the world.  Weather, the seasons, and water can be seen as that which sustains and connects us all.  Syracuse is known for its intense and varied weather, which is often drastically different from the weather where immigrants come from.  It was also noted that how the space will look in different weather and seasons should be considered.  The universality of weather is also appealing to some CMs, as is the way it shapes culture (food, art, folklore, fashion).  Weather and nature as a common denominator for all people was mentioned by multiple CMs.

Another CM, with support from other CMs, indicated that who the artist is has importance: a Haudenosaunee artist would have a different appreciation and understanding of space compared to a Western artist.  Other CMs did not agree, stating the best artist should be chosen independent of heritage and origin, and the search for the artist and concept should be worldwide.  A CM suggested the project could use multiple artists.  A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will be developed.

A CM mentioned their fear of Heritage Park being “culturally lopsided”, insisting that all cultures should exist and be celebrated within the Park without any one culture being explicitly celebrated over others. 

Use of the preexisting mural space will be permitted.   A CM mentioned allowing a local artist to work on the mural if a non-local artist is tapped for the rest of Heritage Park.  The challenge of using the mural is that there is a small parking lot between the mural and the rest of the Heritage Park blueprint.  Many CMs agree an interactive component would be welcome, but that can be broadly interpreted.  The augmented reality component being developed by Clarkson University would be interactive by nature.  Anything physically interactive will necessitate upkeep and maintenance. 

Examples of a local murals:
Mount Morris Mural- created from community input, highlights indigenous history, immigration patterns, influential people, and social justice movements (Mount Morris Mural | Explore Genesee Valley)
Diversity Lives Here- collaborative project on the Syracuse’s Northside done by four local artists to represent the City’s diversity (https://www.facebook.com/Diversity-Lives-Here-Mural-Syracuse-106107464165933/)  This is an example of a collaborative effort with multiple artists on a project that can be added to in the future.  A CM noted that there is no guarantee there will be additional funds to add to parts of the park, so concern about an ongoing cost to program or maintain the park should be considered.

A CM advocated for the use of indigenous trees and plants, either real or represented, on the Powelson site.  They would also like to incorporate a crystal globe that will look different in different weather conditions.  There is not agreement on the globe idea, as some CMs support it and some believe it is an overused idea.  Proponents say it could either be three dimensional or could be inlaid in the ground like a mosaic.  

Examples of globe installations:
New Museum’s Blu Marble – outdoor sculpture with video stream from orbiting NASA satellite (Artist Livestreams Images of Earth from Space for Public Art Installation – WorldStage)
Fairbanks Museum’s Omni Globe– 5 feet diameter, illustrates weather, seasonal changes, tectonic movement, and migration (http://aaronristau.com/omni-globe-installed-fairbanks-museum-st-johnsbury-vermont/)

There is agreement that the potential artist should know the following: 1) they will be utilizing an entire space rather than creating a single monument, 2) the space has existing infrastructure (mural included), 3) they will work with multiple entities (public and private), 4) it has been agreed that this should be a place of peace, 5) it will be used for community gatherings, 6) those who currently use the space should not be displaced, and 7) they might need to collaborate with other artists.

It was noted that the Diocese Offices adjacent to the park space will be busier than in the past as the new center will act as intake and reception for the men’s shelter.

It was noted that multiple CM’s wish for mention of war and violence to be kept out of Heritage Park.

A CM representing the City thanked CMs for their time and efforts before leaving.

A CM suggested creating a semi-circle seating area near the mural space to be used as a stage.  A garden area where cultures can present their heritage was also suggested.

The role people from this part of the world have played in social justice movements was mentioned by many CMs.  From the Onondaga influence on democracy and feminist movements, to the Jerry Rescue and eventual status as a “Sanctuary City”, this area has always been in the middle of social justice change.

The meeting was called to a close at 5:15 pm

These minutes respectfully submitted to the Heritage Park Advisory Commission

Chris Melfi

Support Services Administrator-Onondaga Historical Association