Provocative public art: Is that a reptile in your sewer or an artichoke on your fire hydrant?

The recent news that an Egyptian cobra is on the loose somewhere in the Bronx made me think of this:

From the "Life underground" series of sculptures, installed in the New York City subway. Image from: http://www.tomostudio.com

These provocative and fun sculptures are the work of Tom Otterness, who is clearly a product of the same wonderfully warped imaginary world as Far Side cartoon creator,  Gary Larson.

 When you travel in New York City, you’ll find Otterness’ sculptures everywhere.

This is one of his art pieces in Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City overlooking the Hudson River.  It shows a cat stalking a bird who is eyeing a worm — that appears to be shielding a very small person.

This piece reminds me of Gulliver’s Travels…

Don’t ask me!

What I think makes these sculptures so compelling is their ability to personalize such a vast and impersonal landscape.  New York City is the biggest city in North America but through these whimsical and strange creatures, visitors and New Yorkers alike are instantly perplexed, amused and ultimately thrown off guard.

And if you think that New York is unique, look at what’s just happened along Wellington Street in Ottawa’s Westboro neighbourhood …

Photo: Eric Darwin

 These marble fire hydrants are the work of Ryan Lotecki and Marcus Kucey-Jones, who laboured for two years in their warehouse studio outside Almonte creating these weird sculptures.  Read more about this provocative public art in our own backyard here.

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