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In the Air – Art+Auction's Gossip Column

Can a Giant Rabbit Sculpture Save the Sacramento Airport?

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SUPER BUNNY!: Recent college grads, American cars, the print media, people who like being employed, Heidi Montag’s face, and of course, the international airline industry, have all had a pretty bad year. But the Sacramento International Airport in the city of Sacramento, California, is looking to change all that. Well, actually just the last thing. A new art installation of a giant red rabbit — seen leaping in to a giant suitcase, of course — might liven things up a bit.

Things have been particularly dismal for the Sacramento Airport since 2008, when its annual passenger count began to fall from nearly 11 million in 2008 to 9 million last year. Airport staff seem to think a floating, 56-foot-long aluminum sculpture of a polygonal bunny leaping into a giant suitcase by artist Lawrence Argent is the just the right medicine for their traffic woes. “The rabbit is suspended over the escalator, leaping toward a granite suitcase the size of a queen bed two floors down in the baggage area,” notes the Sacramento Bee. “The top of the suitcase is a swirling vortex.”

Lawrence Argent's flying rabbit sculpture at the Sacramento Airport

As for the work’s theoretical/aesthetic interpretation: “The rabbit’s diving down to a suitcase,” said Shelly Willis, public art director for the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, which coordinated the terminal’s 12 public art pieces. “It’s obvious you’re supposed to go down there to retrieve your bags.” Obviously, passengers are sure to get the message.The piece of public sculpture is part of the airport’s massive, billion-dollar makeover, which opens to the public today.

But the ambiguous rabbit is not all! A luminescent flock of indigenous sandhill cranes flies over international passengers toward the airport’s exit, subliminally showing visitors the right direction to go. A 30-foot chandelier in the shape of three intertwining Valley Oak trees is designed as a natural gathering place for visitors, and is visible throughout the concourse area. Maybe the airport just wants to go back to nature?

— Chloe Wyma

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  1. Giant animals (including bears) belong in a Disney theme park NOT in the public art realm. They may please but there is NO poetry nor reason in their being. Substitute a frog or a cat or any other friendly animal for that matter and it would garner the same attention. Spectacle is not art.

  2. I agree entirely with Douglas. Ornamental Art on a preposterous scale, for some reason, it is. A large geodesic salamander would be good. Maybe throw the endangered species thing into the mix. Perhaps periodically light the rabbit on fire ala Burning Man. What is with this ongoing trend in fascistic hugeness for the sake of hugeness? Like the kids say, “Whatever?” Whatever, as long as its red, whatever. mb

  3. by Susan Critchfield

    AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL. Just saw it for the first time on Thursday and it scared the hell out of me. I really really hate it.

  4. by Augustine Wright

    Location, Location, Location. I am sure the artist had a great time constructing and designing the rabbit, but really??? It’s kind of weird at the airport. What does it have to do with the airport other than being really random and scary. If that was the mood Sacramento was going for, they hit the nail on the head. Maybe I can’t appreciate art, but what does a rabbit have to do with the city anyhow? Why not signify the capital with the state bird? A giant quail, or a huge poppy, or a big ol’ freaky Gold miner with a beard, or something else besides a rabbit? Maybe all of the good animals were taken already? How about a huge flying saucer with aliens?– now that would be cool. Best idea yet– how about leaving that space blank and just saving a couple of bucks on the total cost of the airport?

  5. Wow, what a bunch of self-important whiners above this comment. I think it’s absolutely fantastic. As soon as you narrowly define art, you’ve killed it. Sure, some must be serious, some must be crafted from fine metals, some must deeply engage the mind… but some can be just plain enormous and fun. And that’s what this is. Lighten up, whiners.

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