Home Arts New home being sought for heavily debated sculpture

New home being sought for heavily debated sculpture

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Work is underway to identify a new locale for a polarizing Downtown Appleton sculpture. 

After weeks of debate, those efforts were announced without a vote of the Appleton Common Council that could have forced the issue.

“It’s in our best interest to relocate the work,” said Alderman Alex Schultz, who also serves as executive director of Sculpture Valley.

“The Collective” by Paul Bobrowitz, Jr.

The council, as expected, did not act on the sculpture on Wednesday. A recommendation was brought to rescind approval for “The Collective” to stand in a public right of way just west of the College Avenue bridge. The issue was referred back to the municipal services committee.

A work of Paul Bobrowitz, Jr., “The Collective” is a head created of propane tanks. The overall head is made of smaller faces and represents the complex composition of our communities.

The sculpture is part of the third season of Acre of Art, a program of Sculpture Valley, which has brought community sponsored sculptures to the downtown and riverfront districts of Appleton, Neenah and Menasha.

Bobrowitz’s work has generated discussion like no piece before in the program’s history.

Schultz said that if the council were to vote to keep the sculpture in its place, it still wouldn’t be a win — some would’ve felt their voices weren’t heard. There’s also concern of the risk for further vandalism should the work remain in its current locale.

Public dialogue provided to the council showed both love and contempt for piece.

It was called an eyesore.

It was praised for speaking to diversity.

It was called grotesque.

Several called it awesome.

“Not everyone will like it or agree about art, but it’s already doing what art does,” wrote Kathy Flores. “Making people think and now discuss.” 

Critics say the piece doesn’t fit its surroundings. There were complaints that the neighborhood wasn’t given notice.

Schultz addressed the issue from his position with Sculpture Valley during the public participation portion of the meeting. He said they’re working to find a private location in Appleton to display the work.

Failure to notify neighbors wasn’t meant as a sleight, Schultz said. 

The organization hasn’t before notified neighbors prior to art placements in public right of ways.

“It simply wasn’t part of our normal procedure,” he said.