Two years ago
when sculptor Tom Otterness was installing his latest piece in Brooklyn, his past came back to haunt him. As you might recall, back in his younger days he adopted a shelter dog, chained it to a fence, and shot it... for art. Now that he's been commissioned to sculpt bronze lions at the Battery Park Branch of the New York Public Library (for $750,000!), his dark past is resurfacing again, with PETA protesting and petitions popping up. But the NYPL says they're the wrong target.
Those behind the current petition believe "it would be a disgrace for the NY Public Library to let this project proceed." And PETA spokeswoman Colleen O'Brien has made the organization's feelings on the subject very clear, saying, "Any man who would adopt a dog and then film himself shooting the animal needs a good psychiatrist—not another art show." To clear things up, the NYPL released this statement:
"While The New York Public Library cares deeply about the concerns of its patrons, we want to make clear that the proposal to place lion sculptures in front of our Battery Park City branch lies with the Battery Park City Authority, not the Library, which does not have any authority over the sidewalk outside of the branch. We in no way solicited this project, and are learning much of the detail in public meetings. We have already expressed our concerns about maintenance, access and liability related to the lions, but the decision will ultimately not be ours to make. The donation is not being made to the Library, and no library funding will be used for the project."
It's actually Community Board 1 that's been pushing for the project to move forward, despite the public outcries. Meanwhile, Otterness hasn't spoken out lately, but when he unveiled his shiny, happy sculpture back in 2008, he addressed the situation, saying, "As you must understand this is a very difficult and painful situation for me. Thirty years ago when I was 25 years old, I made a film in which I shot a dog. It was an indefensible act that I am deeply sorry for. Many of us have experienced profound emotional turmoil and despair. Few have made the mistake I made. I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me."