Sculptor Tom Otterness is hounded by animal rights activists whenever they discover that he created a film decades ago that depicts the shooting of a pound dog that was slated for destruction. Discontent has been brewing in Rochester for months over Otterness receiving a commission from the city’s Memorial Art Gallery (see the comments on this recent Rochester post.)
Now San Francisco has rescinded one of the two $700,000+ awarded to Otterness. The second commission was spared because the City had already spent $365k and didn’t want to lose its investment. Carol Vogel reported on the San Francisco decision:
Animal advocates were mad that both projects were not scrapped, but the chairman of the Arts Commission, P.J. Johnston, told The Examiner that he thought that it was “a prudent decision” that would “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 receive the work that we contracted for.’’
Sadly, the vengeful animal lovers only reconfirm
the power and importance of the original work the ability of the original work to get up people’s noses when they campaign against Otterness. Sentimentality is a powerful cultural force and it would seem that Otterness has conjured with it lightly while his opponents clearly don’t think due process has any place where the death of dog is involved.
Dead Dog Comes Back to Haunt Artist (ArtsBeat/New York Times)
SF Cancels an Otterness Sculpture (Rochester City Newspaper)