You have to admire, Greg Sundstrom, the Grand Rapids city manager who gave his approval for an artist to decorate the city’s massive Calder stabile, La Grand Vitesse, with stickers and then corrected the mistake without punishing the artist.
Grand Rapids identifies strongly with its Calder—one of the earliest projects in the NEA’s Art in Public Places program—and the city has allowed numerous temporary additions to the work. Sundstrom told the LA Times: “I’m guessing we’ve done it 100 times over the last 45 years,” Sundstrom said, adding that until now “no one objected.”
The most recent adaptation to the sculpture came as part of Grand Rapids annual art prize competition. As a result, an image of the work must have made it back to New York and the Calder Foundation:
The city approved the installation, but last week said it would be decommissioned following criticism from locals and the New York-based Alexander Calder Foundation, which also received complaints.
Foundation president and Calder’s grandson Alexander S.C. Rower last week sent a letter to city officials calling Dodde’s work an “abomination.”
“The Calder Foundation wasn’t pleased, and the relationship with the foundation is important to us, so it’s a lesson learned,” said Grand Rapids city manager Greg Sundstrom.
The entry was going to be removed last Friday, but the city decided to keep the piece up so Dodde’s son, who is disabled, could see his father’s work as part of a school field trip.
“Whatever damage was done wasn’t going to get any worse with another couple of days,” Sundstrom said.