IN THE DOGHOUSE? CRITICISM DOGS FIREHOUSE
(Tuesday, June 9, 1992
Section: Local Page: 1B)
WORTHINGTON, Mercury News Staff Writer
Sculptor Lori Kay affectionately calls her cast
bronze dog Fido. Critics of the piece call it road kill. The jagged-edge
sculpture of a dog with a front paw on a fire ladder has set off
a small blaze of controversy since it was installed a few weeks
ago on the front lawn at Fremont Fire Station No. 5 in Warm Springs.
It's a taxpayer-financed piece -- and that makes every Fremont
resident an art critic. Under the city's "Art in Public Places"
policy, 1 percent of the construction costs of new public buildings
is set aside for art. The sculpture cost about $11,000, including
lighting and installation at the station at Hackamore Lane and
Warm Springs Boulevard. ''We don't understand why money is being
spent on art for the station in time of budget cuts," Capt. Scott
Amsbaugh said. "The concept (of the dog) is all right. Everybody's
got poetic license, some kind of latitude. The artist certainly
took it." Kay is philosophical about artistic dialogue with the
firefighters: "Whatever they say, it's valid. Some of them say
they like the concept, but not the sculpture itself." ''Half of
them like it, half of them hate it," she said with a sigh Monday.
"People aren't used to seeing a shell (of a figure). They expect
bronze to be solid." Firefighter Dan Viscarra put it another way:
"They should have left it as a nice warm dog going up a ladder.
They shouldn't have blown it up." To Kay, the dog's peeled-back
edges and hollow center evoke openness and flight. Titled "Flight
IV," the fire station piece is one of a "Flight" series by the
Burlingame sculptor. It's the first public commission for Kay,
30, who has been casting bronze 11 years and has shown extensively
in Northern California and New York. The artist was chosen two
years ago by the city's art review board, then approved by the
city council. At the time, artists were chosen to create works
for three new fire stations. ''We wanted something unique for
each station -- something related to firefighting," said Paula
Artac, who was board chairwoman at the time. "Hers had a traditional
element but was handled in a contemporary way." Kay is working
this week to finish a smaller indoor wall piece, "Flight V," at
the same fire station. In cast stone, it follows the same theme
of fire dog and ladder and will cost $3,000. Since 1987, the city
has bought art for nine sites for $160,130. "Phoenix," a stainless
steel sculpture by artist James T. Russell, will be installed
at Fire Station No. 9 on Stevenson Place near the city softball
fields by early July. The cost is $15,000. Other fire station
art includes the $11,000 "Drought Fountain" by Robert Feldman
at Station No. 10 on Deep Creek Road and the $12,000 "Firefighters"
(sometimes called "Casper the Friendly Ghost" for its off-white
finish) at Station No. 4, Pine Street and Paseo Padre Parkway.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS