Members of a city committee had qualms Wednesday about spending $170,500 for a local artist to finish another artist’s half-done sculpture.

“I feel like this project has fumbled and stumbled its way to our desks today from 10 years ago,” Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bortolin said during a meeting of the community services and parks standing committee. He was referring to the series of setbacks for what eventually became the You + Me project, envisioned as giant cast-in-bronze Windsor chairs that would face one another as a sort of conversation space in Jackson Park.

The project was originally floated in 2010 by the city’s International Relations Committee as a way to honour Windsor’s relationship with its twin cities.

But several attempts to garner project ideas from the community failed. The You + Me concept from artist Laura Shintani was finally approved in 2013, with the International Relations Committee committing $25,000, the local Korean Society committing $1,000 and $225,000 to be fundraised.

But the project has been in a holding pattern for about six years, with wooden models of the chairs moved to various places, including most recently the Alzheimer Society.

The You+Me Sculpture Project is pictured Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015.

Dax Melmer /

Windsor Star

Earlier this year, the chairs had to be moved because the Alzheimer Society was doing renovations, so they were put into storage.

The administration report before the committee calls for well-known local sculptor Mark Williams to finish the project for $148,500 plus installation costs of $22,000, paid by the city’s two-year-old Arts Endowment Fund.

At Tuesday’s meeting, committee members questioned if the International Relations Committee was still committed to the project. Ward 6 Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac made a motion — passed by the committee — that the matter be referred back to the International Relations Committee for debate on whether it still wanted to spend the $25,000 and if there were other suitable options that would be less expensive than the costly bronzing technique.

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