Saturday, March 05, 2005

Baggage Handler Sent Packing

Did I call it or what? Michael Hermesh's statue has now been taken down - at the artist's request.

It seems that spray paint wasn't the only defacement to poor "Frank". The statue was also castrated. Now, Hermesh, with a lawyer in toe, wants to have the statue restored by a professional conservator and reinstalled in the roundabout.

There are two stories surrounding this latest news. One from the Penticton Herald and the other from the Penticton Western News. The Western News article takes the side of curator Curtis Collins in a pointed slur against the artist.
Collins said he believes Hermesh has been trying to "bully" the city into making the sculpture a permanent art piece since the beginning, citing a Jan. 23 article of the Penticton Western News, in which Hermesh said the city would be "fools" not to buy the Baggage Handler.
"So the city's going to pay to have it shipped, to have it conserved, to have it shipped back to go somewhere else as another project - we're going to pay to have it repaired so he can sell it," said Collins.
"He's got dollar bills in his eyes."

It seems to me that all art is maintained by the gallery during the run of the show and expected to be returned in the condition it was received in at the conclusion of the show.

I can understand Collins' haste to put the blame on Hermesh in order to avoid public strutiny over the purportedly controversial work. He doesn't want to lose his job. His chief complaint, it seems, is over Hermesh's insistance on the statue remaining intact. Collins complains that the works sought in the intial call were to be ephemeral and degrade over time.If this is the case, why, oh why, did Collins choose a statue? According to him,
...the artists were asked to consider "water, electricity, plant life and wind as their primary materials." The document stated "The proposed installations may change, grow or degrade over the exhibition periods so as to underline the temporary quality of this project."

Did the committee receive no projects that would accurately reflect the supposed theme of the call? The article mentions that artists would have their work returned to them following the exhibition. Returned ephemera? Something smells here...

On the other hand...a conservator??? It seems neither of these guys knew what they were getting into.


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