As reported yesterday, SF’s Arts Commission was set to vote yesterday on whether or not they’d revoke the two contracts they awarded a Brooklyn artist who shot and killed a dog on film and called it art in 1977. And now the decision is in, and it’s mixed.
Artist Tom Otterness had been awarded a $750,000 contract to install 59 sculptures in the proposed Central Subway station and a $700,000 contract for a set of sculptures to decorate San Francisco General Hospital.
That was before San Francisco’s Arts Commission discovered Otterness’s dark past, revealed to them by an article in the Ex. Outcry from both city officials and the community followed, and the projects were “paused,” as the Arts Commission tried to decide what to do.
As the Ex reports, the Arts Commission has voted to terminate one of the contracts they awarded Otterness and the most expensive, at that.
Otterness lost the Central Subway art contract but will still receive $700,000 to finish his Mother with Children sculpture for SF General. The city had already paid Otterness $365,750 for the piece and would lose the money if that contract was also terminated.
At Wednesday’s hearing, some spoke against Otterness doing any work for SF, with one public commenter, ABC7 reports, calling Otterness “the Michael Vick of the art world.”
However, Arts Commission chair PJ Johnston said in the Ex that “I think a prudent decision … is to penalize him pretty severely for the loss of this major, major creative as well as financial opportunity, but not penalize the San Francisco Department of Health and its hospital and not cost The City an extraordinary amount of money to not receive the work that we contracted for,”
Terminating one contract was seemingly not enough for some animal advocates. Sally Stephens, chair of the city’s Animal Control and Welfare Commission told the Ex, “I am disappointed they didn’t cancel both. But at least we got the one. It’s the cost of [the Arts Commission] not doing their homework.”
Photo of Boy & Dog by Tom Otterness: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
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