After reading about the new Haymarket riot memorial [Culture Club, January 16] I am not surprised that the Chicago Public Art Program has monumentally failed again in commissioning art for the city.
I hope Mary Brogger just happens to be posing at a local scrap-metal yard and that is not a $220,000 sculpture behind her, paid for with our tax dollars. (Is the maquette on view somewhere?)
I realize aesthetics are subjective and arguable; however, commissioning an artist who does not have a vast and accomplished background in figurative sculpture is arbitrary, capricious, and irresponsible. Nathan Mason should be forced to gaze at the raw mass of metal (which aptly could be titled “formal anarchy”) for several minutes before continuing his important job as special projects curator.
By the looks of it, Mary Brogger has succeeded in her number one challenge of making the sculpture bombproof, not that anyone would necessarily notice the before and after anyway. These types of decisions are what has Chicago regressing from a world-class arts city commissioning Picasso to a third-class arts city where Art Chicago is heading toward irrelevancy and the Cultural Affairs Department’s idea of public art innovation is cladding blocky furniture (does anyone remember the compelling “Suite Home Chicago”?).
Even the successful Chicago cows idea was appropriated from Switzerland.
How the city of Chicago administrates art and the resulting situation the city arts program is in (besides the Bush Administration) is a most compelling argument for the anarchist movement.
Jeff Huebner replies:
The work Mary Brogger posed in front of was an unfinished casting model of the Haymarket sculpture.