Since our first exhibit last November as a grass roots art gallery, The Shoe Factory Art Co-op has had eight art shows featuring the work of more than 200 artists, about 95% of them from the Rochester region. The Shoe Factory has been a proud neighbor of the Memorial Art Gallery, adjacent to their property on N. Goodman St. As gallery director and promoter of local artists, I have been excited about the MAG opening their grounds by removing their iron fence and the prospect of their new sculpture park benefiting the Neighborhood of the Arts and our community as a whole.
I am not only extremely surprised and disappointed by the MAG’s decision to hire this figurehead of artistic animal abuse, but I am also now faced with being forced to look at this giant sculpture every day and have my stomach turn.
The MAG’s argument seems to be that Tom Otterness is now contrite about his heinous act of long ago. They seem to think he is an all around nice guy and great to work with and should be forgiven. Whether he is genuinely contrite or whether this happened a long time ago does not change the fact that he committed a violent act against an animal and ended its life for the sake of art. It is part of his art bio and he is forever linked to animal abuse because of it. As an institution that teaches about art, the MAG has a great responsibility. By showing their respect for this artist through hiring him for an expensive and important public art installation they send a strong message that anything is okay to draw attention to yourself for the sake of art and not to worry! People will forgive and forget if you kill an animal on a creative whim! This will not impede your art career by any means!
Adding this significant and profitable public art project to Tom Otterness’s resume offends my principles and strong feelings about defending the rights of animals. The thought of being associated to Tom Otterson in any way, shape, form, or proximity disgusts me and makes me want to move my gallery out of the Neighborhood of the Arts, or even out of Rochester entirely. This is my reward for what I’ve been working so hard for in this neighborhood? Trying to provide underserved local artists as well as myself to have a venue to their show art? To have this giant insult of an artist’s work looming over our neighborhood? This is so hugely disappointing and discouraging for me. I’m having difficulty even understanding and processing my anger and trying to put my gut feelings into words.
Other cities don’t want Tom Otterness’s art and neither do I. I’m asking others to join me in protest and making it known to the Memorial Art Gallery and the world that we do not approve of tarnishing our city’s reputation with a permanent Tom Otterness sculpture. We, as citizens of Rochester, are independent thinkers and will not sit back and allow the misguided decision of a few cast a dark shadow on the hard work and progress of the many who have stood up for animal rights. We refuse as a community to send the message that we reward people who commit violence and abuse towards animals.
The Shoe Factory Art Co-op has been in the process of planning a call for artists exhibit for February 2012 entitled “Unconditional Love: Cats and Dogs”. This exhibit will honor our feline and canine best friends through an open call for art of all mediums to be created by artists from the Rochester area and beyond. This exhibit will coincide with the month of February’s Valentine’s Day and Spay Day and is intended to express support, love, and care for animals through art. Tom Otterness is not invited.
Director of The Shoe Factory Art Co-op
Director of The Shoe Factory Art Co-op
Sign Petition #2
Complain to the Memorial Art Gallery
Underdogs for Justice / Mad at MAG website
"Boycott the Memorial Art Gallery" Facebook Page
"Boycott the Memorial Art Gallery" Twitter
"Rochesterians Against Tom Otterness" Facebook Page
"Boycott Tom Otterness" Facebook Group