More Public Art Fauna

More public art fauna, right here in Vancouver and Victoria!

A few days ago I wrote about Public ART? in some American cities. I had forgotten about our Orcas in the City until I read Pete McMartin’s article “Whale-watching tour of downtown” in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun (unfortunately subscription only).

McMartin wrote: Zurich pioneered the concept of fauna as public sculpture, populating the city with a herd of fibreglass dairy cows – each of them decorated by local artists – to be auctioned off later for charity. Chicago did bulls. Toronto did moose; Saskatoon, pigs. Miami did flamingos, eight-foot-tall flamingos. Dublin…auctioned off one bovine clad in cut crystal for a record $233,000 US.

B.C. Lions society president Stephen Miller saw Rochester, N.Y.’s horses which inspired the idea for Vancouver and Victoria. According to the Orcas in the City website, the Orca was chosen to embody the West Coast and to highlight the fact that British Columbia is one of the best places in the world to view killer whales.

Have a look at the photos in the Orca Gallery. My personal favourite is ‘Orcasmic Voyage’ by Arnt Arntzen because it is the most unique and least decorative, using industrial materials as well as a head of a real Mayan figurine inside the periscope (this fact from McMartin’s article).

The project certainly has a lot of business sponsors and the cities of Vancouver and Victoria are listed as supporting sponsors, so some public money here as well, to support a worthwhile charity. Yet, I still feel a lot of these projects are more decorative than artistic, with a few exceptions like Arntzen’s. Perhaps it is harder to sell art?

Update: Visit today’s entry in Anna Conti’s Journal for a further discussion of “Is it Art?” She’s made up for my laziness by adding the links to the many fauna mentioned above, plus talks about San Francisco’s public art project Hearts!

Update July 19.04: Libby from artblog saw SF’s hearts and is not a fan of these objects which add up to just more visual clutter.

July 13, 2004 in Culture by Marja-Leena