Other Uses for a 60-Foot Pointless Sculpture

Last updated September 3, 2004.

[A JC Decaux for art critics] [A JC Decaux for art critics]

It is said that successful artists, late in their careers, start making monuments to themselves. That seems to be the explanation why this piece is so big. Several times during the planning process, the east coast artist was asked to provide descriptions of what this partially buried bow and arrow is all about. What if anything does it mean to San Franciscans?

It was reported that the artist was reluctant to provide such statements. Finally he explained that when walking through SFO, he saw a sign greeting visitors that said something like “We love having you here.” That was the connection to Cupid. An airport sign.

Cupid’s Span looks like it is constructed of cheap plastic—like something at Disneyland. This, and the lack of any meaningful insight by the artist, make the piece superficial.

[Bridge, Park & Skyline] This sculpture is in a location important to San Franciscans. The waterfront is loaded with history—Native Americans knew the area well, the 49ers landed there, longshoreman made history on the spot. It seems like every movie filmed in the city has a helicopter shot of this site wedged between the skyline and the bridge (left). We cherish our views of the Bay. What we choose as our largest sculpture in such an important location says a lot about us. Of course we didn’t choose it, the chairman of the Gap Corp. did.

Few San Franciscan’s even knew Cupid’s Span was coming. It only had one picture in the “Chronicle” ahead of time. It was rubber-stamped by one so-called citizens’ advisory committee whose members are all chosen by the Redevelopment Agency. A resolution at the CAC just to consider reducing the sculpture’s size could not even get seconded so the idea was not even discussed. Only those “art experts” who make up the Redevelopment and Port commissions voted to accept the sculpture after little discussion.

[Aurora] Across the street from Cupid’s Span is another sculpture. It is called “Aurora” by local artist Ruth Asawa. Though overshadowed by buildings, she didn’t feel it was necessary to make her piece nearly so big, or monumental. Based on a work of origami, it honors her heritage. It also includes a reflecting pool and falling water that pleases multiple senses. It is nice when a local artist is chosen. Cupid’s Span does none of these things.

Our views of San Francisco Bay do not need fiberglass embellishments. That’s like suggesting Half Dome could use a mural.

[The jumper]

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