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Friday, September 16, 2011

Tom Otterness, Sculptor Who Killed Dog, Wins Art Contract for Central Subway Project

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 9:20 AM

click to enlarge Not necessarily a cat person
  • Not necessarily a cat person

Is art still subjective if it involves killing a dog?

The Examiner gives us a not-so-uplifting story today about a Brooklyn sculptor who once shot and killed a dog for art's sake. While Tom Otterness is a well-known artist in the streets of New York, this slight fact seemed to slide past San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency Board, which signed off on his $750,000 contract for 59 bronze statues at the new station.

According to the Ex, the MTA was unware Otterness had killed a dog; the group relied on the Art Commission's recommendation.

"The Central Subway Artist Selection Panel chose Otterness based on the

strength of his proposal and his impressive portfolio of past sculptural

work," Susan Pontious, director of the San Francisco Arts Commission's public art program is quoted saying.

But part of his portfolio includes his 1977 movie, Shot Dog Film,  in which Otterness adopted a pup from a local shelter then tied it to his fence and shot it. He recorded the shooting on video, which was looped continuously and shown at his exhibit. Animal activists are still outraged, especially because he was never charged with animal cruelty. Otterness continues to apologize for that art exhibit, and in 2008 said:

"It was indefensible act that I am deeply sorry for ... I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me."

However, in a city where people prefer dogs to kids, not everyone is so forgiving. As Sally Stephens, chair of Animal Control and Welfare Commission points out, Otterness' controversial will probably haunt him in San Francisco. 

"It's not a great fit for San Francisco," she said.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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