Pro questdocuments 2014-04-03(1)


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Pro questdocuments 2014-04-03(1)

  1. 1. _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ Report Information from ProQuest April 03 2014 21:13 _______________________________________________________________ 03 April 2014 ProQuest
  2. 2. Table of contents 1. Saving public sculpture................................................................................................................................. 1 03 April 2014 ii ProQuest
  3. 3. Document 1 of 1 Saving public sculpture Author: Grant, Daniel ProQuest document link Abstract: As many public works of art fall into disrepair, artists must increase their awareness about the durability of their artwork, including sculpture. Art is not considered to have a life expectancy, but the growing maintenance issue raises the question of just how permanent public art is. Full text: Headnote With many public works of art in dire condition, artists must take more responsibility in ensuring the longevity of their work. Just a few years after its completion, in 1991, Athena Tacha's granite public sculpture Memory Path was becoming unrecognizably stained and corroded at its site in Sarasota, Florida. The photographic images sandblasted into sections of the stone were rapidly losing their clarity, and the formerly smooth surface was increasingly pitted. Why? City maintenance workers were hosing down the work and watering the surrounding grass with recycled water, which is acidic and has a high bacteria count. Unfortunately, repairing the artwork has been a slow and unsatisfactory process. Memory Path, however, received a better fate than Marianthe, another of Tacha's public works of art. Commissioned by the University of South Florida at Fort Myers in 1985, the sculpture--constructed of bricks and metal supports in a spiral maze--was scrapped last February when rust weakened the entire structure and made it a potential hazard to students who might walk on or near it. "I leave very specific maintenance instructions, and no one follows them," says Tacha. "A damaged work is detrimental to my reputation, and removing a work both damages and lessens my reputation, first because there is nothing left for people to see, and second, because it leaves the impression my work isn't durable." The condition of outdoor monuments and other artworks has been a subject of concern since the 1980s. A five- year study by the Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization Save Outdoor Sculpture, completed in 1995, identified 32,000 artworks throughout the United States, half of which were in need of significant conservation treatment, 10 percent urgently. The main causes of the deterioration are vandalism, pollution or the climate, cars or trucks that crash into the work, the fragility of the materials, and failure to provide regular and appropriate maintenance. A growing number of public (frequently outdoor) works of art have been commissioned since the 1970s, spurred by Percent-for-Art regulations that require governmental agencies to spend between one-half of one percent and one percent of building construction or renovation funds on the acquisition of artwork for those sites. In addition, many airports and transportation authorities, corporations, and universities have set aside money for the purchase of large-scale sculptures and murals. Unfortunately, this growth has been accompanied by increasing complaints that no one is taking care of these pieces, leading to their rapid deterioration. "They never kept my work in good repair," New York City sculptor Nancy Holt says about her 1984 Waterwork installation on the grounds of Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, which finally removed the piece in 1995. "They just slowly let it fall apart." Another New York sculptor, Judy Pfaff, found that a 1992 public piece anchored to a Miami police station, which had been commissioned by the Dade County Percent-for-- Art ordinance, was badly damaged by a roof leak at the station. Ironically, the work's name was Aqua Vitae, and it was totally destroyed. In the early 1990s, a public work representing a sharecropper shack by Athens, Georgia. sculptor Beverly Buchanan, which was owned by the city of Atlanta and located in a municipal park, was damaged by homeless people. Instead of repairing the piece, the city removed the bolts that kept the sculpture in place and put it in 03 April 2014 Page 1 of 5 ProQuest
  4. 4. storage, where it has remained. Buchanan's lawyer in Atlanta, William Gignilliat, says, "We've been able to keep the city from destroying it, but that's about it. They have no intention of repairing or putting it on display ever again." Art is not considered to have a life expectancy, but the growing maintenance issue raises the question of just how permanent public art is. "Personally, I'm a proponent of temporary public works of art," says Jack Becker, the editor of Public Art Review, the leading journal in the field. "The owners of too many of these works just don't accept responsibility for them." Tom Eccles, the director of the Public Art Fund in New York City, which primarily commissions short-term installations of public works of art, agrees. "Contractually, 20 years is as far as anyone can go," he says. "A private developer may commission a work and be very enthusiastic about it, but buildings change hands over time, and no one wants to be tied to a work in perpetuity." That is certainly the problem faced by Forrest Myers, an artist in Brooklyn, whose 1972 sculptural installation on the exterior wall of a building at the intersection of Houston Street and Broadway in New York City became a source of contention with the property's new owner. In 1997, the owner announced that he wanted to remove the sculpture, replacing it with billboard signage through which he could earn thousands of dollars. The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission stopped the owner from taking down Myers' piece, but according to the artist, "he switched tactics, using what I call 'demolition by neglect.' He is not making repairs on the wall or repainting it; he put scaffolding around the wall and my work, claiming that there is a safety hazard. Basically he wants to make it look so bad that the city will require him to take it down." Myers has formed a committee to raise money to save the wall. Changing ownership was also the problem faced by Tacha. In the early 1990s, the University of South Florida sold the land on which Marianthe was located to Edison Community College, which never repaired or provided maintenance to the work, even after Save Outdoor Sculpture notified Edison that repairs were needed. Although her commissioning contract with the University of South Florida required the institution to provide regular maintenance, Tacha, who lives in Washington, DC, says that she "cannot afford a protracted breach of contract lawsuit in Florida courts against two institutions with unlimited legal resources, nor can I afford the emotional drain of it." For its part, Edison Community College claimed that the extensive rust that made the piece unstable within only 14 years proved that the work itself was improperly constructed and composed of nondurable materials. Because the contractor she used to construct the work had died (no one for her to sue) and the Ohio- based engineer who assisted in the design had retired, Tacha decided that all she could do was walk away from the piece. Legal complications and emotional turmoil also convinced Pfaff not to pursue her contractual rights for the work at the Miami police station. "I had so much trouble installing it and the police's reaction was so negative that I didn't want anything more to do with it," she says. Similarly, New York sculptor Alan Sonfist decided to forgo a lawsuit against the city of St. Louis when it tore down a work that city maintenance workers had not properly maintained. "I didn't want to spend a month or two in St. Louis pursuing this; I thought I'd get an ulcer," he says. Ultimately, Tacha, Pfaff, and Sonfist were paid in full for their respective works, and the loss was primarily to their reputations. Their works exist now only in the photographic documentation of the installations. Artists have been protected from unsoughtafter changes to, or the wholesale destruction of, their work by the Visual Artists Rights Act, which was enacted into law in 1990. An amendment to the federal copyright law, the act allows artists to disassociate themselves from artworks that have been altered and bring a lawsuit in the event of destruction. The law does not cover damage to the work caused by a lack of maintenance (an exception exists in the law for the "modification of a work of visual art as the result of the passing of time or inherent nature of materials"). Only one legal case filed under the act has been decided in the artist's favor, involving Indianapolis sculptor Jan Randolph Martin, who sued the city of Indianapolis in 1996 for demolishing a public sculpture that he had created on land that the city had subsequently acquired. He was awarded 20,000 in statutory damages and $131,000 in attorney's fees and court costs. Although the decision created a useful precedent for other artists who seek to defend their rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act, the high cost of 03 April 2014 Page 2 of 5 ProQuest
  5. 5. legal and court fees as compared to the potential payment for damages reveals why some artists choose not to pursue their legal options and, instead, walk away. "You make something; you put it out in the world and hope that people will respond," says New York City sculptor Mary Miss. "Certainly, you hope at least that it will not be so damaged or neglected that it's no longer the same piece you created. Under the law, you can remove your name from it that's not much consolation." The key to ensuring that one's installed public artwork is properly maintained, lawyers for the artists claim, is to write maintenance instructions clearly into the commissioning agreement. Ann Garfinkle, an attorney in Washington, DC, who has represented Tacha and other artists involved in public art commissions, stated that contracts should ideally include clauses requiring a budget for maintenance and repairs; periodic inspections of the work (with photographs taken of the piece and a condition report written up by the inspector); regular maintenance (such as cleaning, regrouting, or repainting); immediate notification of the artist in the event of damage; a requirement that the artist meet with someone to discuss how best to conserve the work; and monetary damages to the artist if the owner fails to live up to the maintenance agreement. A growing number of cities and counties with Percent-for-Art statutes-- Buffalo, Dayton, Denver, Richmond, St. Paul, and Broward County, Florida-- have adjusted these laws to include money for maintenance. "We changed from a one-percent-for-art program to a two-percent-for-art program, using the extra money for care and preservation," says Nancy Knutson of the Broward Cultural Affairs Council, which oversees the public art program. The General Services Administration's annual budget for maintenance and conservation edges close to $1 million. Artists themselves, however, need to use the most durable materials and understand the types of care that their materials and designs require. "Part of the challenge of creating public art is combining appropriate materials and an artistic vision," Sonfist says. "If you are putting something into the ground, you have to consider the acidity of the soil. If you are working in a place that is very humid or very dry, you have to know how your materials will interact with that environment. Furthermore, when the piece is created and installed, the maintenance should be clearly spelled out in writing for the owners." In many cases, the artists don't know how their work will hold up, nor do they understand how to maintain it or repair damage. Early on in the General Services Administration's art conservation program, "artists came in to do conservation, and deterioration recurred," says Alicia Weber, the chief of the fine arts program. "After that, we stopped using the artists and relied exclusively on conservators. Artists generally seem happy to defer to the conservators anyway." It is rare that the individuals or panelists involved in selecting public art include conservators, engineers, or others with a specific knowledge of how an artwork, which they see in design or a small-scale model, should be cared for and the long-term costs of its upkeep. Two notable exceptions are the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, and the Fairmount Park Art Association in Philadelphia, where maintenance and conservation concerns are part of the selection process. "We're too small a museum to have a fulltime art conservator," says Jane Weinke, the curator of collections at Leigh Yawkey Woodson, "so I've spent a lot of time with conservators at the Upper Midwest Conservation Association [a regional conservation lab that works for small museums in the geographical area] to learn how to take care of works and to spot the ones that are going to need a lot of care. Seeing as a conservator sees certainly makes you look at artworks differently." That knowledge of the durability of materials and how they interact with the environment has benefited the museum, which regularly purchases artworks for its sculpture garden. In fact, three of the museum's 12 outside sculptures are regularly brought in for the winter for repair and to limit their exposure to the elements. She notes that artists sometimes provide instructions for the maintenance of their work, but their ideas are frequently not appropriate to the conditions at the museum. "The waxes and patinas that they recommend may work where they live, but they don't work in the upper Midwest," she says. "When we've followed their suggestions, the works haven't weathered well." 03 April 2014 Page 3 of 5 ProQuest
  6. 6. At the Fairmount Park Art Association, how the pieces are going to hold up is a key element in the commissioning process, and the staff works with artists to "find the most durable materials that still meet the integrity of the artistic idea," according to Laura Griffith, the assistant director. One project on which this maintenance-conscious approach has worked successfully is Jody Pinto's Fingerspan, a 1987 piece of functional art (a bridge) located at Fairmount Park. The idea for the bridge over a water hole went through numerous permutations before it was finally constructed, starting first as a wooden pier, switching to Cor-ten steel, and finally developing an open-lattice weave of weathering steel for the floor of the bridge in order to permit drainage of water and lessen the likelihood of the metal rusting. The Fairmount Park Art Association's knowledge was hard won, having seen the damage caused by collecting water in an early commissioned piece by Louise Nevelson, Atmosphere and Environment XII. In that work, made of Corten steel, water filtered through cracks and eventually began pushing out the boxes that composed the work. The piece had to be completely disassembled and drainage holes drilled in before it could be installed outside again. The Art Association required an engineer to approve Pinto's design and its materials before it went into construction, and Pinto worked with an engineer in Philadelphia, Samuel Y. Harris, who found the most appropriate gauge of steel and the types of joints and bolting needed for the work's structural integrity. The project offered a great learning experience for the artist, who has subsequently done a number of functional public artworks. "The needs of maintenance really change the design," she says. "When you try to develop an idea with maintenance and conservation in mind, it forces you to simplify the design." AuthorAffiliation Daniel Grant is the author of The Fine Artist's Career Guide, How to Start and Succeed as an Artist, and The Artist's Resource Handbook, (all Allworth Press, New York, New York), among other books and magazine and newspaper articles. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. Subject: Sculpture; Public art; Publication title: American Artist Volume: 64 Issue: 697 Pages: 18-22 Number of pages: 5 Publication year: 2000 Publication date: Aug 2000 Year: 2000 Publisher: Nielsen Business Media Place of publication: New York Country of publication: United States Publication subject: Art, Museums And Art Galleries ISSN: 00027375 CODEN: AARTA8 Source type: Magazines Language of publication: English 03 April 2014 Page 4 of 5 ProQuest
  7. 7. Document type: Feature ProQuest document ID: 232329459 Document URL: Copyright: Copyright BPI Communications Inc. Aug 2000 Last updated: 2011-09-07 Database: Arts & Humanities Full Text _______________________________________________________________ Contact ProQuest Copyright © 2014 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. - Terms and Conditions 03 April 2014 Page 5 of 5 ProQuest