Photo by Dan Toulgoet from the Vancouver Courier.
There are a fair amount of cheapos in Vancouver who don’t want to pay for our futuristically named, public transit system: the Skytrain. I’m one of them. Our city has since cracked down and tried to install London-esque turnstiles in most of the stations downtown, so that drunken kids and drunken bums can’t jump on the train for free. Everyone has to get paid, guys. That became even more evident with the recent 25-cent fair hike that made a bunch of people grumpy.
Even though the grumpy levels were already operating at a fairly high degree, the poodle in the sky appeared, and people got even grumpier.
The latest installment from a series of public art works called the 88 Blocks Public Art Project, funded by B.C. transit, popped up a few days ago. Untitled(Poodle) by Montreal-born artist Gisele Amantea is a 33-foot-high sculpture, comprised of a seven foot high cast aluminum representation of a porcelain poodle figurine, perched on a platform atop a 25-foot high steel pole. The poodle cost $100,000 and it's been installed right in front of a new condominium complex on Main Street.
The artist responsible for the poodle in the sky issued a highly academic and somewhat skippable statement:
“(Untitled) Poodle flows from the material culture that contributes so strongly to the character of the street. Rather than high-end consumption, Main Street is more typically characterized by the presence of a multitude of objects that tend to have a personal meaning and relate to everyday life. The poodle was chosen as a motif for the sculpture because it is evocative of the general ambiance of the street.”
People seem annoyed by the poodle. At least the people who were raged up enough to comment about it on the internet. After reading comments like: “$64,000 for some pretentious statue of a poodle. Or you could cut that grant up 64 ways and get sixty-four sick graffiti murals all over Vancouver. Why do all the assholes get the arts grants?” I decided to visit the monolithic poodle and ask some local residents what they thought of this work of public art.
The answers I got included:
- “I like the poodle and I’m so sick of all the haters. If everyone hates it so much I will gladly take it off their hands and put it in my room.”
- “This poodle is three stories off the ground so it can shit on all the hard working artists in this city that are living off of nothing with no help from the city what so ever. Every time a venue or art space gets jeopardized the dog takes a shit and City Hall smiles.”
- “This is a total embarrassment to the local neighbourhood. I cannot wait till a coked up Hells Angel uses it for target practice. Poodles are for Yaletown, you moron artist. But you live in Montreal so what the fuck do you know except my tax dollars?”
The best answer that I got was from my friend Tony: "For starters, I don't really see how having this done by someone who does not live in Vancouver should be a problem. The whole 88 Blocks Public Art Project has included a number of Vancouverites as well as artists from abroad. Then of course, we get to the cost. Yes, I do believe that there are many, many ways that the city could spend $100,000 in a way that would greater serve Vancouver, there is no arguing that. But just for the record, the East Van Cross by Ken Lum was commissioned at a price of $250,000. I would imagine other public works in the city cost as much as this poodle did, such as the House on Stilts or the Engagement Rings.
Behold: the wackiest church to ever set foot (steeple?) in Vancouver.
What exactly is the problem here? Are people simply mad that no one came around to ask them if they would like this particular piece? It doesn't work like that and we all know it. Has anyone even been out to see the other pieces involved in this project? I think it would be a shame if this poodle suffered the same fate as the upside down church in Coal Harbour did, simply because it didn’t fit some peoples’ taste. If you’re not intimately familiar with the politics behind Vancouver’s monuments, the church was fantastic and we could have kept that sculpture on an open ended lease for a long time, but, unfortunately it was too risqué. We sent it packing to a city with a more open mind (or better taste, I suppose)."
The giant engagment rings.
So yeah, I kinda like the Poodle in the Sky! It may not be an upside down church or a giant set of engagement rings, but it simply just doesn’t bother me. Feel free, though, to populate the comment section with poodle hate. I'll be watching.
Follow Mish on Twitter: @myszkaway
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