Sculptors who accept commissions for work in public areas have been wearing bulletproof vests. “That’s for after it’s in place and unveiled,” Billy DiCaro said recently. DiCaro was awarded his contract over the objections of most of the members of the Indiana Art Board (IAB). By some fluke the chairman of the board, Ruth Sarkington, had been given a “kill” right in the contract and so she was able to overrule the board and appoint DiCaro. Sarkington (since replaced) said a lot of members of IAB were composers of opera and, to quote, “while there is a renaissance in opera areas in Indiana, I don’t see what that has to do with the renaissance we want in Wabash Park.”
DiCaro’s sculpture is a piece with very urban structural connotations. He has eschewed the Indiana idiom as condescending and out-of-time. He has produced a long, stone bench, decorated with Italian tile which recalls the bench in Grant Park on Riverside Drive in New York. So that the public will not sit on the bench, which is visual and not to be seen as a functional ornament, bronze figures are placed at intervals. Next to the most prominent of the figures there is a sculpted shape that suggests in strong, formal terms a paper bag with a whiskey bottle in it. This orientation caused an uproar in the pleasant, “more or less” puritanical midwestern state.
Meanwhile, under a privately endowed public space project, a sculpture by Bonita Salt is planned. Hers is to be a soaring, abstract design of metal used both austerely and indigenously. Salt complained that her projected work, which is “very site-situated,” is violated by the DiCaro bench, “which might be anywhere and would be better nowhere.” DiCaro rebutted, “Speaking of nowhere….”
Batti and Bardi have speeded up the momentum in the traffic-clogged New York Art Scene. These two European artists, with of course the notable, magical Borolini (the three of them known in the inventive, opaque New York street language as the ABCs) have flooded our shores with a rich, lush Mediterranean expansiveness. Imagine, the downtown galleries and the buyers are saying, the very clever Europeans, bombed on Manhattanism and processed items from the action-school of New York, didn’t know what was under their noses. That is a simplification of process. The expansiveness of the New York School was another kind of out-reach altogether. That and the profoundly indigenous Pop Art were an expression of the postwar American era of economic glut, in which waste and a no-holds-barred possibility exploded in a brilliant Paradise Enow surfeit that was the envy of the Second and Third World. Not to confuse things, Paradise Enow is still valid as an esthetic, if only as a dialectical comment upon The Slump, as a new group of exuberant young artists call themselves.
For the Europeans—which, indeed, indeed, includes the new Germans working under the shadow of the really awful legacy from their parents in the …
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