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Rust on 2 sculptures is there to stay

The Public Art Committee drops a plan to ask the artist to fix his works and protect them from further corrosion.

By LOGAN MABE
Published March 12, 2004

TAMPA - After months of debate and dissension, the county's Public Art Committee decided to drop its claims against the artist they hired to create two large metal sculptures that have rusted.

The long-running battle concerns the steel and gun metal star sculptures that Land O'Lakes artist Bradley Arthur designed and built at the county's behest. The pieces, one at the Citrus Park district sheriff's office and the other at the Ybor City sheriff's office, began rusting soon after Arthur installed them.

The sculptures are made primarily of metal from melted-down guns collected in a weapons buy-back program.

Initially, the committee wanted Arthur to polish off the rust and apply a protective clear coat to prevent future corrosion. Arthur, who maintains that the rust is actually part of the meaning of the art, agreed, but only if the county would pay him $38,000 for what he called cost overruns when the gun metal arrived months late.

The county attorney's office advised the committee that Arthur has no basis for the claim.

The vote to abandon efforts to force Arthur to rust-proof the sculptures was 3-2. The two dissenters said they worried that Arthur could still sue to get the $38,000. But committee member Antonio Amadeo said the issue needed to be put to rest.

"It's not for us to worry about this anymore. We have beat this dead horse plenty," Amadeo said.

Arthur said he has no plans to sue for the alleged cost overruns. For him, the committee's decision represents a moral victory.

"They're respecting the agreement and the integrity of the work," Arthur said. "And I'm hoping they will now focus on putting appropriate signage up explaining the works."

In the artist's statement that he gave to the county, Arthur wrote: "The steel from the weapons will rust and the stainless steel frame will not. The rusting of the former weapons represent their past and potential danger, as well as destructive effects criminal behavior has on society. The bright stainless steel represents the strength of our laws and how they protect us."

"When people know what's going on in the work, they really like it," Bradley said.

- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at 269-5304 or at mabe@sptimes.com

[Last modified March 12, 2004, 02:05:29]


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