Best Public Art Innovation

Plop Art: "The Guardian," by Fred Fierstein

Back in the mid-Eighties, when the DIY spirit was young(er), a sculptural, uh, installation made quite a splash at the foot of the Berkeley pier, and in the Bay Area art scene. Or, perhaps, in the methodology of the Bay Area art scene. When Fred Fierstein deposited "The Guardian," a sixteen-foot-tall, massive cement-and-steel sculpture based on a medieval Mongolian lucky charm, at its current (and, let's face it, permanent) marina location, the city officials went up in arms. But the fierce archer — and the Berkeley voters — won the day, and the term Plop Art was born. As you stand at the waterfront contemplating the striking piece, you might consider how times have changed: The current sculpture planned for nearby Cesar Chavez Park, a collaborative piece by Jeffrey Reed and Jennifer Madden, has been scaled down after the Golden Gate Audubon Society complained that its height might provide a perch for raptors, thus endangering the marina's protected burrowing owl population. The newly approved version is under construction now, and will provide a barrier to shield the owls. Even in the world of art, EIR beats DIY in this day and age.

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