Coping Public Sculpture

Read a nice little item in Apollo Mag about some high-profile disputes with public sculpture. I think that many people would agree that modern copyright law is extreme and heavy handed. I haven’t given it much thought but defending the copyright of a popular public sculpture would seem to be a difficult challenge.

I found China’s defense of their copy of the Chicago sculpture, Cloud Gate, to be amusing and thought provoking at the same time:

‘Cloud Gate intends to reflect the sky, but ours reflects the ground,’ Ma Jun, a spokesperson from the Karamay tourism bureau has stated, before adding, ‘You can’t say we’re not allowed to build a round sculpture because there already is a round one.’

In copyright legal cases, like all types of law, you never know how a judge or jury is likely to handle a specific issue:

The sculptor John Raimondi has received damages of $640,000 from the Russian billionaire Igor Olenicoff as the latter made four unauthorised copies of sculptures by Raimondi (manufactured, unsurprisingly, in China) and displayed them publicly. However, in an odd twist to that case, US District Judge Andrew Guilford ruled against the prosecution’s argument that the fakes be destroyed and decreed that the new works be attributed to Raimondi, thus creating four new Raimondis against the artist’s wishes.



Institutions Plan On How To Recover From ISIS Damage To Cultural Heritage

There isn’t much museums can do to resist ISIS in an active war zone. As a result most of their plans focus on Iraq. Actions they can take are limited; mostly related to co-coordinating activities of curators and training more specialists.

Museums can do amazing restorations of art objects but this strikes me as very naive:

Despite destruction by explosives, bulldozers and power tools, which the attackers have videoed and posted online, reconstruction may be possible, Tubb says. Looting means artefacts are lost to the black market, but destruction leaves fragments of buildings and foundations in situ. Others, including Weijland, fear that looting may accompany the destruction.

Any restoration that can correct the damage caused by ISIS is certainly welcome news. Protecting the cultural heritage that is located in the Middle East is a small but not insignificant additional reason to fight for the destruction of ISIS.

A related event is that the Detroit Institute of Arts has unveiled a new gallery devoted to the Ancient Middle East.


Something You Never Want To Say In A Gallery


Spend enough time visiting galleries and museums and you have to wonder if it will happen to you – making the news for accidently damaging an invaluable artwork.

I just read a long winded report on a woman’s experience after sitting on one of a pair of sculptures that were “suggestive of museum benches”. If you were to damage a work of art, I’m sure you would wonder if you had just become financially ruined. A lot of thoughts went through this woman’s mind. She even wondered the same thing I was thinking reading her piece – “Maybe it was a performance piece tracking everybody who sat on it and their responses?”

Above is Picasso’s painting ‘The Actor’ which was damaged when a woman accidentally stumbled into it. I really like the quote used to start the article with:

“Sculpture is something you bump into when you back up to look at a painting,” someone famously quipped once — maybe Ad Reinhardt or Barnett Newman.

Check the source for the full story – sort of. Don’t miss the comments, which manage to fill out the issue somewhat.


Amazon Opens 3D Printing Storefront

Wait – what? Amazon now does 3D printing? It’s not much to speak of yet but their pilot 3D printing storefront could be huge. So far, the storefront has less than 50 products; mostly jewelry and smartphone cases. They all come printed in Nylon Polymide, and only the color is customizable.

Offering an on-demand 3D printing service is a nice initial step. Once designers are permitted to upload their STL files and offer printed output for sale, combined with Amazon’s market reach and distribution power, online 3D printing services could become prime-time. My head is spinning at the thought that Amazon’s 3D storefront could evolve to have service offerings similar to Shapeways.


Amazon 3DLT Storefront:

Exposure to Art as Entertainment

I’ve posted a few times about concepts to introduce creative activities to a wider audience (check out the “Art theme night” tag for other examples). I’m not quite sure about the concept of combining restaurant dining and painting. The main upside to the restaurant seems to be increased drink sales. Mixing drinking with paint and inexperienced painters is just asking for someone to get their clothes ruined (I wonder who would be liable in such a case).

Having said that, I still think there is a germ of a good business idea in here. Having an audience watch some artists create pieces that are in line with a theme/concept paired with matching music would seem less problematic but is it entertaining enough?


Is the Reported Steve Jobs Sculpture Competition a Hoax?

The Register claims that someone they know inside Apple told them that there never was a sculpture competition. If true, all the sculptors who wondered why they didn’t make the cut to be one of the 10,000 invited to the Apple competition, can now feel less insulted.

Perhaps the reason all those gullible media types fell for the scam (mentioning no names, eh? – Vulture Central’s backroom gremlins) is perhaps due to Apple themselves, whose reticent PR team operates with all the transparency of the NSA. They barely answer calls, let alone confirm or deny stories.

This is the Register reporting so, I’d wait for some confirmation before telling everyone it was a hoax. It is just as likely that their story is having some fun with the Apple PR team….


Marilyn Monroe is Moving to Hamilton, NJ

Grounds for Sculpture is getting a new statue. Moving from Palm Springs, to her new home in New Jersey, is “Forever Marilyn” a 26-foot-tall, 34,000-pound statue based on the 1955 movie “The Seven-Year Itch”.

Not really sure what is going on with the fire hose in this picture. Having spent some time in the Palm Springs area (29 Palms to be exact) I’m guessing that the statue can get pretty dusty after a while.

The Monroe sculpture is part of a series that sculptor Seward Johnson created called “Icon Revisited”. Some other pieces in the series are a sculpture based on the famous picture of a WWII vet kissing a nurse when the end of the war in Europe was announced and a sculpture he did based on the famous Grant Wood painting “American Gothic”.

Recreating popular icons in three dimensions is sure to be popular with the general public. The concentration of so many kinds of sculpture at Grounds for Sculpture makes it a very cool place to visit. Hopefully adding “Forever Marilyn,” to their collection, will bring them lots of new visitors.

Another thing I learned from this news item is that some of the sculptures at Grounds for Sculpture are replicas. I’m assuming that helps lower their acquisition costs and replicas certainly can widen an artists exposure. I guess I’ll have to visit Grounds for Sculpture again to see how transparent they are about the reproductions; I don’t remember them highlighting which pieces are replicas when I was there the first time.


Mr. Johnson’s web site:

Some Apps That Can Aid Creativity

Just bumped into a blog, called Creativity Tech, that looks like a great resource. Digging around the site, I spotted an old post about apps that can help creativity.

The focus of the post was on the types of help an app can offer. He outlined five bucket categories:

  • Inspiration
  • Research
  • Memory Aid
  • Storage
  • Opinions

That seems like a fairly well thought out list of high level creativity aids. While Gordon Platt gives some examples of online resources, for some reason he doesn’t mention any mobile apps. In my former life, one of the things I would do research on was examples of mobile apps. I’m a bit rusty but thought it would be fun to do a quick search and see if I can find any interesting mobile apps to fit into Mr. Platt’s creativity buckets.


Mr. Platt’s examples, of inspiration tools, point you to databases of content. There are certainly mobile versions of sites like Flickr; for something a little different I spotted this app: Creativity & Inspiration Affirmations. Their approach is to use daily reciting of affirmations as part of your personal development routine. I can’t speak to how effective that approach is to increasing one’s creativity. Without downloading the app it is hard to tell if there is enough depth in the content to warrant the $.99 price tag. I can say that this app has a weak download history but since the app was first released in December of last year that isn’t telling you very much.

Here’s an app, Design Spring, that sends you a daily example of illustrations to inspire you. However, this app has been out since 2012 and still seems of have technical issues. Not to mention that the examples shown in iTunes didn’t strike me as particularly inspiring. I would think that there is a market for an app that offered a daily dose of creative inspiration but since I didn’t find many examples perhaps I’m wrong. Either that or perhaps all the apps, of this type, that have been offered so far suck. There are a number of art and design related magazine subscriptions offered in mobile apps that could perhaps scratch this itch.


This is perhaps too broad a category for a specific mobile app. The details of what you are researching will help define what the best tools would be. Not to mention, I’m not sure if there is much of a business case for a tool that focuses on doing research while mobile; Google search would seem to be adequate for that. I thought I would offer at least one mobile example of a fine art resource. A publisher called Robert Schoenburg has put together a little collection of mobile apps to explore some popular categories of painting. Seen here is a screen-shot from the HD app on Impressionists.

A better use case for a mobile creativity related research tool might be if you wanted to do field research on outdoor art. This example, Sculpture Mobile, is for an exhibit that is now over but it will give you the general idea for what could be done.

Memory Aid

I have to agree with Mr. Platt that it is hard to top Evernote for collecting all types of information. There are of course other apps worth considering. I make use of the desktop version but the mobile version of Evernote looks useful.

Storage and Organization

This is another broad app category that doesn’t necessarily call for a specific art/creative version. I’ll echo Mr. Platt and say that there are ways to set up Evernote to facilitate this function as well. I did find a mobile app, while not related to creativity, that can help with organization for an artist. Fine Art Manager ($8.99) allows you to catalog your portfolio and manage the movement and sales of your artwork.

Opinions and Feedback

Getting feedback is a very important part of the creative process. Posting your works and projects on your blog and on twitter, as well as, soliciting feedback via email are not mobile specific tasks. During my quick app search I didn’t find any examples but an app that polled the audience during one of your art exhibitions could be interesting. Wouldn’t it be fun if the art show attendees were the ones that got to vote for “best of show“. That would of course be most useful for future projects, since you would be asking for feedback on finished works.

If you have any suggestions for apps that are useful to the artistic/creative process please make a note in the comments….


Update: here’s a post with a bit more deep in their examples of apps that support the creative process –

Organizing an Outdoor Sculpture Trail in East London

I blogged earlier about the idea to create opportunities for commuters to enjoy art while commuting. It turns out that a group of artists in London are actively raising funds for a similar type of project.

In the Evening Standard they refer to the project as “the Line of Beauty”; I’m not sure if that is the official name or not. I think they chose that name because the riverside trail they are looking to utilize, as the location for the sculptures, runs along the Greenwich meridian.

The project is attempting to leverage the fact that all museums and many private collections have a great deal of art that is not on display. It remains to be seen how much of that art in storage is suitable for an outdoor exhibition. A key question, for these types of projects is how do you protect the artworks. They don’t give many details in the news item but they do have this to say on security:

Aren’t artists or collectors nervous about donating? Although the works will be insured, floodlit and under constant, monitored CCTV surveillance, they will still be vulnerable to those who want to climb or scrawl on them. “In the end, if you feared graffiti no one would put anything anywhere,” he says. “And artists want their works to be seen.”

The Line sounds like a cool project; I wish them the best of luck. Here’s a summary of the project from Mark Wallinger:

Wallinger talks about the experience of walking through a beautiful, little-known part of London, adorned with fabulous shapes. “I can’t emphasise enough that it’s a different perspective. It’s like seeing London afresh. And there is something about those waterway routes that feels like an exciting discovery. It’s not like tramping along known roads. It is a more mysterious and exciting way of knowing your city.”


Aren’t All Museums Like the Please Touch Museum?

I always thought it is a bit tricky, to try and place a dollar value on historic works of art. The reality is, of course, that the majority of works you see in a museum are in fact priceless. So, it stands to reason, that not only is it perfectly acceptable to let your children treat a museum as if it were a playground but you should encourage them to do so.

Stephanie Theodore, a gallery owner from New York, posted the picture on Twitter, with the words: “Holy crap. Horrible kids, horrible parents.” Today she told the Standard the parents had been encouraging their two daughters to play on the sculpture — and refused to back down when she confronted them.

She said: “I was shocked. I said to the parents I didn’t think their kids should be playing on a $10 million artwork. The woman turned around and told me I didn’t know anything about kids and she was sorry if I ever had any.”

You got to love the unabashed sense of entitlement. Should their child fall and twist an ankle or break a leg, we all know who’s fault that would be….


Project to Install Sculpture Along Rail Trail

Saw this item in the Newburyport Daily News:

The Clipper City Rail Trail will receive a $50,000 state grant to install sculptures and artistic murals along the route, state Rep. Mike Costello, D-Newburyport, has announced.

At first blush, this kind of project would seem to have a lot of potential. It sounds like it would be very cool to add sculpture along a rail route. That could make the daily commute much more enjoyable.  In this case, the rail trail is actually a hiking/bike trail along an old rail route. Still, it would be pretty neat to add art to a walking trail.

In either case, my question is how do they protect the art from vandals? The majority of people who walk the train would likely enjoy the added visuals. Although I’m sure some people would want the trail to be kept as natural as possible. However, you know there are some people who would take the addition of art to the trail as a challenge; to see how much “fun” it would be to deface the art.

I think adding art to the public spaces in walking trails and along commuter rail would be worthwhile projects, IF they can manage the vandalism. Does anyone know of some examples of where adding art to these types of spaces has worked well?


Project: Art in the Dark

Ever since I ran a cyber cafe I’ve thought about ways to merge the visual arts and music. Not too surprisingly, other people have had the same idea.

There are a group of folks in Baraboo, WI who started a project called Art In The Dark. This photo from their recent event shows they have taken a low tech approach to combining art with the music (most likely because it fits their budget).

I had envisioned a more multimedia approach. Paintings projected behind the performers and perhaps selling a multimedia CD with the images and music from the show. Still hope to do something like that one day….


Inspiration Uncorked

There is the germ of a fun idea in here at Inspiration Uncorked. I understand why they are keeping things so structured, since they are open to the general public.

However, what if this were an invitation only gathering; preferably of creative types? What if the focus was less on generating a craft project and more on sparking creative ideas? It might also be interesting vehicle to experiment with various creativity techniques; once you had built up a set of “regulars”. Not sure this is a viable business idea but having a “crowdsource” or “kickstarter” for enhanced artistic inspiration could be handy.


Amazon Is Now Selling Fine Art

Totally missed this at the time; Amazon has a fine arts section now (still labeled beta):

Consumers can navigate the site through medium (drawings, photographs, prints); subject (abstract, nautical, “the body”) and style (Realism, Impressionism, 19th-century), as well as by size, frame and color.

There are currently 503 works for under $99 and 2,517 works at $10,000 or more. The vast majority of offerings fall between those price extremes.

With Esty being over run my Chinese manufacturing this is a development that artists should keep an eye on.


Amazon Fine Art site