It took the creation of 4,000 handmade ceramic tiles of cottonwood leaves and flower motifs and two years of installation before the Rosalie Doolittle Fountain at the ABQ BioPark’s Botanic Garden began flowing in 1996.
The whimsical, curvilinear fountain with incorporated bench space for seating, was artist Shel Neymark’s first large public art project, for which he was paid $50,000 from the city’s Public Art Program.
Jump ahead 27 years and the multi-colored fountain, prominently located near the entrance to the Botanic Garden, has physically deteriorated to the point where it is now being considered for decommissioning and removal.
Neymark said this week that he is not happy that the fountain was allowed to deteriorate and he’s not convinced that it is beyond repair.
After multiple inspections and assessments, the fountain was found to have delaminated tiles, a faulty plumbing system and numerous leaks, according to a report to the Albuquerque Arts Board drafted by Sherri Brueggemann, the Public Art Urban Enhancement Division manager. The fountain is “damaged irreparably, or to an extent where the repair is unreasonable or impractical,” according to the report.
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Brueggemann’s report was presented to the Albuquerque Arts Board on Feb. 15, and the board is currently considering the conclusion that the fountain “should be removed completely from the Public Art Collection,” as well as other options including relocating the work, selling or trading it, offering it back