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Museum-Quality Water Bottles in Bulgaria

This installation on the facade of the National Gallery of Bulgaria was short-lived but striking. For just over two weeks, from March 7-24, 2009, the display created by the Bulgarian artist Stephan Simov no doubt inspired many double-takes on Battenberg Square. (Since 1946, after the abolition of the monarchy, the National Gallery has occupied the former royal palace of Bulgaria in the capital city of Sofia.)

Thanks, Klearchos Kapoutsis on Flickr, for sharing these beautiful photos!

Houston taxpayers get soaked?

When Houston’s Water Museum and Education Center opens in the Fall of 2009, visitors will be greeted with one splashy Texas-worthy monument to mandatory public arts funding.

This $500,000 “bathtub bouquet” (conceptual drawing shown here) will be installed at the outer traffic circle of the new WaterWorks facility and is designed with a hidden water recycling system (thank God for that). Not that it has to “represent” or “mean” anything, but I wonder what the artsy “talking points” will be about the work’s message… there’s plenty of water here, fill ‘er up and splash ‘er out! Whatever, I admit it…I really like it, there’s something irresistable about it.

 As reported on www.chron.com, the Houston Chronicle’s online site, 

Its title, Tubbs, is a pun and tribute to country-music legend Ernest Tubb. Its creator, Philadelphia-based Donald Lipski, is an art-world legend, with work in more than two dozen major museums and a hefty portfolio of public art commissions.

Funded by an ordinance that sets aside 1.75 percent of city capital-improvement project budgets for art, Tubbs is one of eight public commissions set for completion in 2009, say officials with the nonprofit agency charged with managing the city’s art collection.

“We want to have the country’s next great civic art program,” said Jonathon Glus, CEO of the Houston Arts Alliance. “Houston is poised for it.”

Lipski landed the Public Works and Engineering Department commission by answering an HAA open call for artists in June 2007. A five-member panel of department representatives, art professionals and stakeholders met twice — first to review submissions and select three finalists, then to interview the finalists, review their designs and select the artist.

Although the commission was originally budgeted for $350,000, public-works officials agreed to add $150,000 after “reviewing the scale and potential of the Water Museum commission.” That enabled HAA to negotiate a $500,000 contract with Lipski in June, according to HAA’s civic art capital report for fiscal 2008.

No quaint paint for this water tower

What is art? During my art student days in the swingin seventies, the idea that art is dynamically defined by perception was the new standard. Now it’s just the standard.

Awesome, because it opened the door to art today as expessed by a sweater for a water tower.  As reported last month in the New York Daily News story, Queens Artist Covers SoHo Water Tower with Yarn Sweater,

Some artists use paint, others clay. For Robyn Love, it’s all about the yarn. Lots of it.

The crochet fanatic unveiled her latest large scale art piece made of her favorite material Saturday atop a 15-story SoHo building. The Queens mother of two, using 60 balls of yellow and black yarn transformed a drab wooden water tower into a huge yellow pencil – point included.

“I wanted to do something that was iconic of New York,” Love said.

Love was hired by the D&AD organization, which gives out pencil-shaped awards, to create a supersized version. “The pencil is the highest award for design and art students,” said Maria Lishman, the organization’s spokeswoman.

Love was given three weeks to crochet what is essentially a massive yellow sweater to envelope the brown water tower atop 395 Broadway.

“I could never do this all by myself in three weeks,” Love said, so she called in backup – six crochet masters with decades of experience.

Team Love worked 10 hours a day and they pulled it off.

Love said she wants to take a break before crocheting anything else. “I’m going to see where the wind takes me before I do another huge project,” she said.

While it’s not my perceived idea of “art,” I would guess that the world is at least a more fanciful, unexpected place because of it. Hmmmm. Maybe it is art, after all.