Joan Mondale and the head of the General Services Administration are expected to announce jointly today the restoration of the "one-half of 1 Per Cent for Art Policy" of the GSA's wide-ranging Art-in-Architecture program.
The program, which allocates a portion of the budget of each new federal building for sculpture, murals and other art works, was cut to three-eights of 1 per cent by the previous GSA head.
The reinstatement of the previous funding level is likely to be seen by the arts community as the first solid dollar commitment to the visual arts by the Carter administration.
The announcement, scheduled to be made at a press luncheon today called by Mrs. Mondale to introduce Jay Solomon, whom president Carter named to administer the GSA last spring, would mean hundreds of thousand of dollars in commissions for artists, craftsmen and arts-related workers such as fabricators and welders.
The Art-in-Architecture program has already financed the placement of major sculptures in many cities, including an Alexander Calder in Grand Rapids, Mich.; a George Sugarman in Baltimore, the Claes Oldenburg "bat" in Chicago, a Louise Nevelson work in Philadelphia, and two pieces at the new Labor Department building here in Washington.
In fiscal 1975, the program spent a total of nearly $2 million, for 31 works connected with the construction of 20 buildings.
In fiscal 1977, $893,400 was available for commissions under Art-in-Architecture, although only about $200,000 had been spent as of last spring. Commissions came to a virtual standstill when the agency, under former administrator Jack K. Eckerd, asked that a study of the program be undertaken. That study led to the reduction of the program to three-eighths of 1 per cent.
The "One-half of 1 Per Cent for Art" policy will also be extended to buildings undergoing repair and alteration, such as Washingtons Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue, soon due to undergo an $18-million facelift.
That could mean as much as $90,000 in new art commissions for that building alone. During fiscal yeat 1976, GSA spent $75.5 million on alterationand repair,a potential $377,000 more for art.
Since Solomon's arrival at GSA, the has taken several steps to loosen the backlog of art projects in the agency.New art commissions are now underway in locations as disparate as Charlotte Amalie, the Virgin Islands and Anchorage, Alaska.
In Dayton, Ohio, the Gsa has just commissioned light sculptor Stephen Antonakos to do a 60-foot-long wall sculpture in neon on the facade of a new federal building there. Antonakos is featured prominently at the current avant-garde "Documenta" exhibition in Kassel, Germany.
Solomon recently transferred title of all sketches for works commissioned by GSA since 1974 to the National Collection of Fine Arts here, thereby making them windfall owners of manquettes by Calder, Nevelson, Sugarman and Mark di Suvero, as well as collages, prints and drawings by other artist involved in the projects, including Frank Stella and Oldenburg.
With the encouragement of Mrs. Mondale. Solomon recently added handcrafted objects to the federal supply catalog, thereby making it possible for government offices to order to order handmade ceramic ashtrays instead of only those stamped from plastic.
Mrs. Mondale has been a supporter of GSA's "Art-in-Archecture" program since her husband took office as Vice President. She has spoken publicly on behalf of the program on at least two occassions, when she officially dedicated Oldenburg's "Bat Column" in Chicago, and a large mural by Al Held (among other works) in Philadelphia, all commissioned by GSA. Rossalynn Carter also spoke in behalf of the program when she dedicated a new federal building in Honolulu last June.