Today San Francisco's public art commission will decide whether to rescind the city's contracts with artist Tom Otterness, who in 1977 shot and killed a shelter dog "for art," then stopped shooting dogs and became a world-famous sculptor. Even though he only shot a poor, defenseless dog that one time, many San Franciscans don't want to fund his work.
Today's vote could have been avoided altogether had the city's Arts Commission, which oversees publicly funded art projects, done proper (any?) Internet research on Otterness and his background and squared their findings with their local, strongly pro-dog community standards. Instead, the San Francisco Examiner reports, the city awarded him $750,000 to make 59 of his quirky signature bronze sculptures for a subway station, and another $700,000 to make a sculpture for a hospital, and then learned about Shot Dog Film—Otterness's terrible dog-shooting movie—from incensed dog lovers who made their voices heard at City Hall. Since then, both Google and Yahoo! have been installed in all city computers via floppy disk, enabling government employees to conduct more thorough background research on public art contract applicants.
The Examiner reports that Otterness is trying to work with the city to collaborate on some sort of restorative justice project that addresses animal cruelty issues. Even if the contracts are rescinded, however, he still might get to keep $365,000 out of the deal. The takeway for all you budding public artists out there: Not shooting dogs for art is still more lucrative than shooting dogs for art.