City explains where art project for delayed far east roundabout will go

EL PASO, Texas - Anna Jaquez is an art professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. She was signed by the city of El Paso to construct a sculpture for the R.C. Poe roundabout.

The roundabout was a critical safety project for the community at large.

"Well, it's incredibly important," says City Rep. Michiel Noe, of District 5.

"Right now, there's a lot of traffic going through there, and it's a four way stop sign. It's just not a functional intersection right now."

Jaquez tells KFOX14 three or four years ago, the city picked her to create a sculpture for the intersection. She had planned to create a piece, showing the area's family unity.

According to El Paso's Public Art Plan for 2015, the city allocated $70,000 for Jaquez's large metal sculpture of a breakfast table and chairs.

"It would give the effect of the table or the chairs floating in air," she says.

"So if you were driving underneath, those chairs would just magically float."

But the loss of state and federal funding, due to skipping an 18-month environmental study for the roundabout, means, at the very least, construction of her art piece is being delayed.

It was originally given a completion date of December of this year.

"I was really upset when they were canceling it. Because, what I was told, they could raise the money for it," says Jaquez.

Noe tells KFOX14 the location of individual art pieces is decided by a city art committee. He says 2 percent of city projects go into a public art fund. The committee then decides where the money will be spent and the pieces will go.

"Originally, when they wanted to put that art project in there, they were going to have to pull from other projects," says Noe.

"When you have a bunch of little bitty projects, 2 percent doesn't add up to anything meaningful."

Despite the money problems, Noe says the city won't lose out on the money meant for this piece.

"It goes back into the pool, wherever art goes. We don't have any specific place, where if it goes here, it goes on to the next thing," says Noe.

"Just like we were talking today about any savings anywhere, it goes into the grand pool of things. We determine an appropriate place for that art might be."

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