Monday, February 11, 2013

The Arts News Story that Isn't - The Blue Mustang

Imagine my surprise this morning, while listening to the TV news, to hear that I was part of a group considering moving or getting rid of the Blue Mustang at DIA. I was surprised because no such consideration is taking place. But hey, never let the facts get in the way of creating a news story where none exists.

I serve on the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs which is responsible for approving Public Art and also, when necessary or appropriate relocating or deaccessing Public Art. Despite recent, persistent and inaccurate news stories to the contrary there is no plan from DIA, or Arts and Venues Denver (the agency responsible for Public Art) or the Commission - nor is any process underway - to move or get rid of the Mustang.

The Mustang by Luis Jimenez was officially installed five years ago today. That anniversary is apparently what has prompted these specious stories.

The art work has been controversial and members of the public have often been quite vocal in their attitude toward the Mustang – some vehemently hating it and others as vehemently liking it. Over the years this has prompted some to call for its removal. In 2009 when there were calls to move the artwork the former director of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs (now part of Arts and Venues Denver) said that the city would not consider relocating the sculpture before 2013, when it will have been installed for five years. The “five year” threshold is mentioned in the city’s Public Art Policy. That policy reads:

“On rare occasions, unusual circumstances warrant the removal, relocation or disposal of a work of art from the City’s collection. The Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs follows established procedures for deaccesssion or relocation to insure that the integrity of public art, artists, and the public is respected. Generally, artwork will not be removed from public display sooner than five years after its installation. A request for deaccession or relocation involves careful consideration of public opinion, professional judgment and legal advice.”

It is exceedingly rare for a public art piece to be moved or removed from the city’s collection. A long and comprehensive process is involved in acquiring and locating Public Art and a deaccession or move of a piece is not to be undertaken lightly an equally comprehensive process would be followed for any move or removal of a piece.

The Mustang is still there - Frankly, it has become as iconic to DIA as the signature roof of the terminal - there are no plans to move it or get rid of it; and there has been no formal requests for removal or relocation.

So, what you may be hearing is a news story that is not a story. But then, it is Sweeps Month for TV ratings.

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