September 12, 2014


Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 9:00 am


In its September 12 article headlined Artist defends rainbow, the Coeur d’Alene Press reports that artist Howard Meehan has agreed to work with the City to “enhance” his art piece titled Under the Rainbow.

Our OpenCdA post on June 25, 2014 titled Remember This? outlined several of the issues prompting today’s Press skewspaper article.  One of the most tasteless and offensive comments we reported came from now-Arts Commission Chairman Jennifer Riggs Drake. As the minutes of the June 17, 2014 meeting of the Arts Commission recount, “Commissioner Drake said that she thinks that a lot of people agree that the arch is under-performing and that putting the [McEuen] logo on it doesn’t take care of that issue.”

We would point out to Commissioner Drake that there is a difference between the performing arts and the fine arts.  Mr. Meehan’s piece is in the latter category.  We also wonder exactly what terms Commissioner Drake and her pseudosophisticates on the Arts Commission used to define what would constitute acceptable “performance” by his art piece when they commissioned him to create it?  If Mr. Meehan’s art piece did not meet the “performance” standards of the Arts Commission and its Council Liaison Deanna Goodlander and its Staff Liaison Steve Anthony, why did they accept it?

We also wish to call readers’ attention to our post dated December 7, 2013, titled Stump Art and Monotony.  In our view, both Anthony and Drake made comments that were offensive and condescending to many of us who live in Coeur d’Alene.  We at OpenCdA freely admit that we are not as sophisticated or educated or traveled as Anthony and Drake, but we know many in our community who are, and they were hurt by Anthony’s and Drake’s comments.

The City of Coeur d’Alene and its Arts Commission commissioned a piece of art.  It accepted and paid for a piece of art.  If the City’s cast of clowns wanted a neon stripper sign suitable for the Las Vegas Strip or the Block in Baltimore or the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, they should have contracted with a professional sign maker rather than commissioning an artist.

Howard Meehan’s piece of art is not under-performing.  It is art.  That some observers like it and some don’t is the nature of art.

If there is anyone who has under-performed in this matter, it is City Recreation Director Steve Anthony and the members of the City of Coeur d’Alene Arts Commission.

And even though Commissioner Jenifer Riggs Drake’s daddy owns an office building overlooking McEuen Park, the people of the City of Coeur d’Alene should not be forced to pay for the under-performance of the City’s Recreation Services Director and the City’s Arts Commission.  We presume that Mayor Widmyer will take the necessary steps to secure and immediately accept the resignations of the members of the City’s Arts Commission.


  1. Apparently, you have forgotten about Kinetic Art, which does indeed “perform” and if it does not meet, expectations then “under performs”.
    People have been disputing what is and is not art and all its various forms since Art the caveman tried to paint a picture of his girl friend on the cave wall.
    Do I appreciate this particular piece of art? Not at all, but that at this point is not important, what is important is that someone is trying to make it appeal to as many people as possible.
    I fail to see why Ms. Drake’s truthful statement is so tasteless and offensive, maybe you can enlighten me.

    Comment by Mike Teague — September 13, 2014 @ 10:02 am

  2. Mike Teague,

    “Underperforming” was clearly her choice of words as shown by the context: “Commissioner Drake said that she thinks that a lot of people agree that the arch is under-performing…” She thinks a lot of people agree? I wonder how many people used that exact term? Who walks up to an Arts Commissioner and says, “Ya know, that Under the Rainbow is really underperforming?” My guess is zero. While a lot of people may be disappointed with Under the Rainbow, it still comes down to the City and its Arts Commission accepting the deliverable. The deliverable was a piece of art. The City and its Arts Commission commissioned the artist to deliver a piece of art. The artist delivered a piece of art, and the City and its Arts Commission accepted it. It appears to me that only after the public started expressing critical dissatisfaction with Under the Rainbow did Drake conclude the piece was “underperforming.”

    Even if the City’s Arts Commission defined their terms constituting satisfactory performance, that same Arts Commission accepted delivery on what was installed. We know they failed to catch the artist’s changes to the lines even though he had told the City about them — Anthony was aware of them.

    In my opinion it was tasteless and offensive for Drake as a member of the Arts Commission to publicly criticize the artist when it was clearly a failure of the City and its Arts Commission members to catch and resolve differences before accepting delivery. The Arts Commission spent public money, so it had a duty to ensure the deliverable met whatever specifications it had written into the contract with the artist. It either failed to adequately define and communicate its requirements to the artist before the piece was completed or it failed to complete a proper inspection of the piece before it accepted delivery and made payment. This appears to be a failure in the administration of the contract with the artist by the City and its Arts Commission.

    The City and its Art Commission need to accept responsibility for their failure and stop trying to foist the blame onto the artist. He designed and delivered what he agreed to design and deliver — a piece of art. The City and its Arts Commission accepted it as delivered. It doesn’t need fixing or “enhancement,” because it is what it is.

    Comment by Bill — September 13, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

  3. I was reading this commentary and the one thing that really sticks out in my opinion, is how so many folks in this area ride on the coat tails of their ‘first’ last names as middle names, so we can make sure that we know who they are. The local media would lend more credibility to those who really want to make a difference by avoiding the ‘connection rub’. Those folks who want to stand on their own, should also avoid the brand name. It might also produce more credibility regarding a cause and quite possibly lead to a stronger voice. Some people can really do great things if they can just shake off compelling and powerful influences.

    Comment by Stebbijo — September 14, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

  4. Stebbijo,

    I don’t know that Drake necessarily uses her maiden name as her middle name. Her lineage is relevant, however, because it’s fair to assume to whatever extent her decisions as now-Chairman of the Arts Commission affect property values downtown, her daddy’s property values there are likewise affected. Likewise, it is fair for the public to consider the objectivity of her recommendations to spend more public money to try and enhance the art piece’s appeal.

    Comment by Bill — September 14, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

  5. Bill, I follow you – her last name appears as her ‘middle name’. Who would know Jennifer without the obvious connection to her father? Pretty obvious in your video clip, how the local media wants to portray her as a person. My point is I “think” she is directed and lacks her own voice because of the people she is surrounded by. She might do better on her own, if she were to jump out of that pit. But, she may not want to, and it could be a very courageous step with consequences. I “think” she is very sadly – getting ‘used.’

    Comment by Stebbijo — September 14, 2014 @ 5:31 pm

  6. So, I had to take a look. Went to see a friend who lived downtown and decided to take a quick pass thru drive to see what all the hoop-la was about. After all, Sundays are not nearly as busy and the maze of traffic and people – not so bad. Seriously? We spend 20 million for that? I did not think it would be nearly as bad as what it was, and to think we took the boat dock and the Freedom Tree(honor to our Veterans) out for this is criminal. Nothing but new concrete work for the business fronts and some play toys for the kids and – and yes, an underground garage for convenience but for whom? The people that put this thru should be hung out to dry and those who continue to try to put a band-aide on it should go with them. McRuin Park is just that … a complete ruin. The Allium is nice but nothing but an entrance for the resort … and it is so obvious it reeks like a decaying fungus. The ‘under the rainbow’ is a nice piece of art but it does not belong there and the Art Commission really messed this up. Big, big trees need to go around this – lots of greenery, it would help a lot. It looks naked. No wonder folks are laughing. But, it is funny that from the high rise of many, they will view their own legacy on a daily basis. They deserve it. What.a.scam. It is very disheartening and sad that the people lost so much for a dressed up pickle ball court. I just hope I am not here when the ferris wheel on Tubbs Hill goes in.

    Comment by Stebbijo — September 21, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

  7. Stebbijo,

    As I’ve said before, my opinion is that the park was a cover, a smokescreen, because a few politically influential businesspeople with property along Front Avenue decided they would personally profit if there was a parking garage on Front or McEuen with tunnels or skywalks connecting to their businesses (think: Son of Spokane’s River Park Square debacle). In spite of all the studies showing that downtown businesses overall would benefit from one or even more parking garages north of Sherman Avenue, the Mayor and Council and their owner-operators appear to have decided that their personal gain was more important than the health and vitality of downtown.

    But as George Carlin said, inside every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud. In Coeur d’Alene, the downtown clowns got the convention center they wanted — sort of. Now all the bums and derelicts have a place to congregate, defecate, and urinate, the drunks and dopers have a place to drink ’em down and shoot up in relative comfort and with a beautiful view of what passes for “art” in Coeur d’Alene, and the same aforementioned dopers have a nice selection of merchandise to steal from the parked cars. Welcome to the McEuen Parking Garage and Convention Center in beautiful Downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

    You can take it to the bank that within a very few years, there will be a push to use more of the Kootenai County taxpayers’ “free money” to build the necessary parking garages north of Sherman Avenue. The new high rises planned for downtown aren’t going to want to waste any of their prime space for parking, don’t ya know, and “Mayor Malleable”, Steve Widmyer, is going to do whatever he’s told to do whenever he’s whacked on the nose by the guy with the rolled up issue of the Coeur d’Alene Press.

    Comment by Bill — September 22, 2014 @ 5:47 am

  8. In regards to parking – I once did a quick review of “variances” to required parking standards granted by the City of CDA. It was way back when I lived in Fort Ground and couldn’t even park in front of my house almost any time of day. What I found was that most student housing and new school facilities/buildings on and near campus were not required to install the required parking. Then when I found how difficult it was to park at the brand new County administration building, discovered that they too were not required to install the requisite number of spaces. Even the new Chamber of Commerce building on 1st and Lakeside was granted a variance, and you’d think they would want convenient on-site parking.

    What I also found that the City rarely, if ever complied with State or City criteria for granting variances – they were granted to whomever knew the right people, go figure. The city has parking design standards they just don’t care to enforce. Instead, they will spread the cost to all taxpayers and never admit it was them who caused the parking problem in the first place.

    Comment by Old Dog — September 23, 2014 @ 9:27 am

  9. “Variance” isn’t the proper term. I’ve seen City rules negotiated away through the PUD process, such as the near obliteration of the Shoreline Ordinance, which I believe is now enforced over fewer yards of waterfront than it’s been PUD’d out of existence.

    Actions regarding parking are dealt with at the planning stage. These decisions are passed through the Planning Commission and rarely rise to the Council level. Adequate parking is always a question I ask, but I can’t ask the question if the decision is made and approved at P&Z. Therefore my observation is that the system is broken. I’d like to help fix it, including adding more teeth to protect existing neighborhoods, requiring trails and parks, and other items that are all part of good planning. Alas, until the City hires a new Planning Director, there’s little anyone can do.

    Comment by Dan Gookin — September 23, 2014 @ 10:30 am

  10. The downtown parking regulations were revised a few years ago. They reduced the number of on-site spaces for new construction. Of course, this shifted the parking burden financing on the public via the parking garage. Note the Tahitian string of pearls building sites on Front have tunnel access to the underground parking on Mc Euen. The City Council adopted the parking ordinance and certainly could address the issue again.
    The city has staff capable of writing ordinances – even updating ordinances – but has not found it of importance to do so. Simply hiring a new Planning Director without direction from council is not the solution.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — September 23, 2014 @ 11:28 am

  11. The parking is a joke – a very very greedy solution for only a few.

    I had to take the husband downtown to see the new art. I just had to. We went after hrs and parked in front of Bank of America, Otherwise, it was just not worth it. We decided to walk thru it and get some good photos. I thought some of it could be saved but it is futile, it is all buried in concrete. Getting closer, I noticed how swallowed up Tubbs Hill is — the concession stand is a bit overwhelming. We took some photos, I put the “under the rainbow” art that really is not a rainbow on Facebook. Our son, who came up a couple of years ago and was part of the judging of the 4th of July parade (thank you Susie) with his family had a really good time and enjoyed the area, even with the walled up barriers that forbid us from entering the construction. However, his comment regarding our grand new entrance of the park was, “Is that the best they could do?” I also have some photos of the underground parking ect. ect. that I will post later. Very underwhelming. The resort looked way more exciting and busier with the prior parking lot and the wide open original green space that highlighted Tubb’s Hill with a baseball field. May it all R.I.P.

    ‘They’ need to all just quit, but on second thought after really taking a look at the entrance – that is so wrong (with no disrespect to the artist – it just isn’t right for this area in my eyes), I think I might donate a few bucks to the coffers to fix it. They really do need to replace the lines or special adjustments, so it has more color in the daytime. Sad, but true.

    Comment by Stebbijo — September 23, 2014 @ 7:18 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress
Copyright © 2024 by OpenCDA LLC, All Rights Reserved