Jeff Koons Backlash Mounts at Sacramento City Council Meeting

“You’re telling the world we’re not good enough!”

A rendering of Jeff Koon's Coloring Book sculpture at the Kings new arena. Photo: Sacramento Kings.
A rendering of Jeff Koon's Coloring Book sculpture at the Kings new arena. Photo: Sacramento Kings

A rendering of Jeff Koon’s Coloring Book sculpture at the Kings new arena.
Photo: Sacramento Kings

The outcry over a planned Jeff Koons sculpture that will stand outside the new arena for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings is not exactly dying down. At a city council meeting held on Tuesday, reports local news station Fox 40, area artists spoke out against the project.

The City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings announced the selection of the public artwork last week (see $8 Million Jeff Koons Sculpture Commissioned by Sacramento Basketball Team), but the piece, titled Coloring Book, soon came under fire on social media (see Jeff Koons Public Sculpture Spurs Viral Online Protest).

Now, that disapproval has been voiced in the real world, quite loudly. Although the artwork was not on the meeting agenda, it quickly became a hot-button issue among attendees. “You’re telling the world we’re not good enough!” screamed an irate Marco Fuoco, a local artist. “You’re telling the world and all of California we need Koons!”

Other, more measured voices included Merle Axelrad, who was troubled by Koons’s copyright-related legal woes (see Jeff Koons Plagiarism Lawsuit Could Top Millions). “He has lost three out of four [lawsuits]. Do we want to support an artist whose integrity is questionable vis-à-vis this copyright issue?” she asked.

Because the artwork’s contract is not scheduled to be debated and voted on until a meeting on Tuesday, March 10, council members were not able to respond to the criticism.

The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission’s selection process, which did not allow local artists to compete, has been decried as “ludicrous and mean-spirited,” but city spokespersons have maintained that there was no obligation to review multiple proposals. The arena will also be selecting $1.5 million in local art.

“The objective is to create a collection that is representative of a lot of different ideas,” commission director Shelly Willis told Fox 40.

Despite the outspoken opposition to Coloring Book, the Koons sculpture is not without its fans, even in the city’s artistic community. “As far a bringing in an international icon like Jeff Koons, I think it’s really important for our community,” said Sacramento painter Tim Collom.

Though Koons may not be local, he does claim to have a special connection to the city. “Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time in Sacramento,” he said in a statement, “from discovering the downtown area, to visiting the train museum for inspiration.”

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