An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
PUBLIC ART, as I’ve often written before, is bound to be controversial because of the fact it’s so public.
Here in the Tournament Capital, public art has given us much to talk about. Sometimes, it’s controversial because we don’t know what it’s supposed to be — artists have a way of welding together a few pieces of metal or chipping away at some rocks and calling it art.
Other times, it’s controversial because we know exactly what it is. We certainly know what the Kamloops Art Gallery’s Joe Fafard bull is — it’s very clearly a bull, private parts and all.
Like children, we’ve been having our giggles over that bull and his “anatomically correct” features for some 20 years now. He’s frequently been vandalized with spray paint and graffiti.
Finally, the vandals have won — the bull will spend some time in storage until restoration work is done and a new location found. Wherever it goes next, it won’t be back at the entrance to Riverside Park.
When it’s re-installed, I recommend a very tall base so it’s not easy to get to. And, maybe, some razor wire strung around it.
That’s what it’s coming to. We don’t seem able to have anything nice for very long without somebody trying to ruin it.
The bull certainly isn’t the first piece of public art to be defaced or damaged. Sometimes it’s vandalized, sometimes thieves have ripped off plaques for the metal in them. (Let me pause here to remind you that graffiti is out-and-out vandalism, not some innocent form of artistic free expression.)
Whether it be public art, benches in our parks, public washrooms or any number of other things that make community life a little nicer, there’s always somebody who wants to wreck them and mess up the town.
Removing these pleasant extras from public view and use, or building cages around them, amounts to surrender, but that seems to be where we’re heading.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.