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Negotiations between the Utah Department of Natural Resources and the New York-based Dia Art Foundation on the future of the iconic artwork Spiral Jetty began Thursday.
Any deal struck on the internationally known earthwork that extends into the Great Salt Lake will likely include a "stewardship" role for a local arts group, possibly the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.
DNR spokesman Jason Curry says the department and Dia would discuss renewing the lease, as well as how the agreement might be restructured.
Control of the state land that lies beneath the 1,500-foot basalt-rock art work was thrown into question after Utah officials informed Dia that it had failed to renew its 20-year lease when it ran out in February.
But Dia responded that it has paid every annual lease invoice and its staff was negotiating the lease renewal with former state Sovereign Lands Coordinator Dave Grierson, who died in 2010.
UMFA Director Gretchen Dietrich confirmed that the museum has been approached by Dia and the DNR to take on a role in a new Spiral Jetty agreement.
"Generally, people agree it would be great for the Dia Foundation to have a local cooperating cultural partner," Dietrich said. "We are in talks with Dia and the DNR to see if UMFA is the right entity. It makes sense because we are the state's art museum. We care very deeply about Spiral Jetty and would do anything for its preservation."
Greg Allen, who filed a competing application for the state lease on the land beneath the Jetty Foundation, said he plans to keep his application active until the dispute is resolved. Allen's approach has always been to lease the land, but allow Dia to retain control of the artwork itself.
"The DNR folks did seem pretty responsive to my application because it had that sort of essence of local engagement in the stewardship [of the Spiral Jetty]," said Allen, a Utah native who lives in Washington, D.C. "I still think it's the best option for keeping an eye on the artwork."
O The Spiral Jetty's stature as an iconic artwork has sparked international interest in its lease dispute, including close scrutiny by Tyler Green's influential blog "Modern Art Notes" on ArtInfo. Read it here > http://bit.ly/ogP9n9