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Jeremy Fish, The Bronze Bunny, 2011
In an article by Erin Sickler titled, Art and the 99%, Sickler wrote, We risk forgetting how we have all been complicit in the current economic crisis. Currently taking a course in the subject matter of art in the city with emphasis in looking at arts relationship and involvement with the public, and reading articles by author such as Sickler, I have been questioning my own existence in the art world and role of the public art I am associated with in the current state of gentrifying San Francisco. A sculpture that is connected with a group of artists and an organization I work for, by Jeremy Fish titled The Bronze Bunny located outside the doors of 215 Laguna in San Francisco that was completed this year, 2017, has me wondering if this monument for the Haight is a marker in the gentrifying problem. I believe the restoration of the original art project that first resided in The Bronze Bunnys place, over all had great intentions of adding beauty and community to newly developed deluxe apartments, However I am questioning if the bunny is representation of something much different and bigger than its historical intention. The newly grounded Bronze Bunny stands ten feet tall just outside the front door of a brand new non-profit art center devoted to the history of rock and roll posters and preserving the printing process. This is not however the first bunny that sat on the street between Haight and Laguna. Jeremy Fish first installed his sculpture the Silly Pink Bunny back in 2011, and it slowly turned into a community project where individuals and artists came to collaborate on more than 100 feet of exterior wall space with a community mural that anyone and everyone was welcomed to participate in. However in 2014, this community mural and the Silly Pink Bunny were deliberately destroyed to make way for a massive apartment development according to Alisa Scerrato in her article titled, Bronze Bunny Sculpture Hops Into The Lower Haight This Saturday. The original Silly Pink Bunny and the 175 feet of community mural that has been worked on since 2010, is completely gone. What now sits in its place are several hundred apartment buildings with a going start rate of $3,500 a month. In April of this year, Jeremy Fish and individuals involved with the new art center held a revealing ceremony for the $70,000 2-ton solid Bronze Bunny at the 215 Laguna door entrance. Fish was requested to create this new permanent bunny on behalf of the art center and the neighboring community in an attempt to keep part of the Lower Haights art history. The Bronze Bunny is definitely a sight to be seen. Fish himself describes it as being weird enough for San Francisco. The sculpture depicts a cute and cuddly bunny on the outside with a golden skull sitting in the jaw of the bronze bunny. But to me the placement just does not quite do what the previous Silly Pink Bunny and mural did for the corner of Haight and Laguna. The Bronze Bunny now has a backdrop of a solid white building that I do not believe many passer byes would know that it sits in front of an art center that is meant for the public. There is not much walking traffic on this street and anyone that I did see walk by did not notice the glorious community bunny. To me, taking away the mural has taken away a part of the identity of the community. I think words from Jerry Saltz in his article titled, New York Has Solved the Problem of Public Art. But at What Cost? could best describe the feeling I get when passing by The Bronze Bunny, The new spaces are not for dreaming. Or love, writing, working, worrying or anything unknown. Land that was granted to the bunny for the next 75 years is not an inviting one for visitors to come, participate and be a community in, nor is there a community involved mural. The Bronze Bunny sits among a couple of cemented blocks and in a way forces the viewer to keep walking. Much like many other public art works that my class and I have visited during this summer semester, I do not believe the Bronze Bunny is meant to be a community project, but rather a place holder and symbol for a much more elite investment. While I am not a San Francisco native with no personal connection to this specific community, to me the Bronze Bunny represents a bigger picture in the role that art plays with the gentrification process happening within the city. Overall the Bronze Bunny was a community effort, the $70,000 spent on materials and production costs was all raised through a kick-starter involving the public and the Lower Haight Merchant and Neighbor Association. And the fact that the artist, Jeremy Fish is the first ever city hall art in residence for San Francisco helped add to the publicity of getting more people to hopefully spend time and money on art in the Lower Haight. But to me, the Bronze Bunny represents an elitist ideal of what art is and whom it is for. Judith F. Baca in her article titled, Whose Monument Where? states, the purpose of a monument is to bring the past into the present to inspire the future. The Bronze Bunny can easily be consider a monument of the Haight community, but does it intend to inspire a community project and involvement or does it save art for the elites who can afford thousand dollar apartments? By participating in the monument of The Bronze Bunny sculpture, I am afraid that the art center and participates, in what was intended to keep a historical piece of art that gathered so many and involved hundreds before The Silly Pink Bunny and mural were destroyed, we are forgetting that we are also part of this mass limbo that San Francisco is sitting in.
San Francisco, California
Reason of review
Damaged or defective
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