This statue was at first believed to be a penis, but is in fact a statue of Canada's first prime minister, John A. Macdonald.

Keanna Hinds' Afro Cow bothered some people for being "too black" and others for not "being black enough."
Tilted Arc was removed after people complained it was too much like "A large, cold slab of steel that blocks the entrance to my office."
The Problems With Public Art: Does The Public Like Its Art?
By Steven Goss

It's not easy pleasing everyone. Just ask anyone who has created a work of public art. It doesn't take much to offend most people and when public art is involved it takes even less. If the piece is conceptual, the blue-collar aesthete will label it, "too abstract." If the piece is realistic the art aficionado will label it, "too trite." If it has anything to do with religion, politics or race then you can count on numerous groups being offended. No subject is safe from retribution. Louis Slobodkin can testify to that. In 1939 Slobodkin was commissioned to create a sculpture of Abraham Lincoln for the World's Fair. The piece, Abe Lincoln, Rail Joiner, was a 15-foot-tall steel and plaster representation of Lincoln as a young boy clutching two fence rails. It seemed inoffensive enough, however, on the fair's opening day Slobodkin was shocked to discover it had been removed. When he asked for a reason, he was told the commissioner of the fair, Edward J. Flynn, had it taken away and destroyed, "because in the opinion of a lady with whom he was lunching it wasn't in good taste." So if someone can find an Abraham Lincoln sculpture offensive enough to demolish it, is there a subject with which no one will be upset? It seems unlikely. Still ARTless took to the streets to ask the public for its insight on the perfect public art piece.


AGE 56 RESIDES Staten Island

OCCUPATION Consumer Relations

DOES PUBLIC ART EVER OFFEND YOU? Not really. Once I was in Ontario and I saw this statue of a penis, only it wasn't a penis. It was a statue of John Macdonald but from a distance it looked like a penis. If it had been a penis I would've probably been really upset.

WHAT WOULD BE THE LEAST OFFENSIVE SUBJECT FOR A PUBLIC WORK? Horses. Unless you can see their penis then that's offensive. Why is it that when they make a sculpture of a horse they make its penis too? You would think they could make a horse sculpture and leave the penis out of it.

WHAT WOULD BE THE PERFECT PIECE OF PUBLIC ART? I guess it would be a horse without the penis. Just once I would enjoy looking at a sculpture of a horse and not have to see its penis.


AGE 23 RESIDES Brooklyn


DOES PUBLIC ART EVER OFFEND YOU? Sometimes. I loved the CowParade series in the city this summer. But I was a little bothered by the cow that had the afro and looked black. Not that I am black or anything, but people should be more sensitive.

WHAT WOULD BE THE LEAST OFFENSIVE SUBJECT FOR A PUBLIC WORK? The Touched by an Angel Cow was nice. I would think it would be hard to mix an angel with a cow, but some how they did it.

WHAT WOULD BE THE PERFECT PIECE OF PUBLIC ART? I don't know. I wish the cows were still up though. I think they would bring a little bit a joy to our troubled city.


AGE 62 RESIDES Manhattan


DOES PUBLIC ART EVER OFFEND YOU? No. As a matter of fact I would cover the city with gigantic steel slabs if they let me.

WHAT WOULD BE THE LEAST OFFENSIVE SUBJECT FOR A PUBLIC WORK? All public art is offensive to the public. They don't want art that you have to think about. They want rainbows and hot air balloons and unicorns and crap like that. Maybe the least offensive piece would be a 20-foot-high unicorn riding in a hot air balloon with a rainbow painted on it.

WHAT WOULD BE THE PERFECT PIECE OF PUBLIC ART? Who can say? I do know that it isn't a 12-foot-high, 120-foot-long steel slab that weighs 73 tons.



© Copyright 2004 The APESHEET, All rights reserved.