When David Codding built the new Boudin Bakery & Café building on the northwest corner of his Montgomery Village Shopping Center, he had two choices when it came to the city's public art requirements.
He could write a check for 1 percent of the $2.5 million project's value, or $25,000, money that would allow the city to commission and install an art project somewhere else. Or he could spend that same $25,000 incorporating original art into his project.
He chose the latter, and the reviews are, well, mixed.
Montgomery Village Sculpture Garden
Codding and mall marketing director Melissa Williams are thrilled with the resulting sculpture garden, which includes bronze figures of frolicking children and peaceful deer.
The city's art coordinator is concerned that she was never consulted about the final art proposal.
And a member of the city's Art in Public Places Committee is upset some of the sculptures are not originals but were purchased over the Internet.
“To me, putting two statues from a catalog together with some deer and a little girl doesn't make it original,” said Judy Kennedy, a local artist and member of the art committee. “There is nothing original about it. It's all schlock.”
The kerfuffle raises questions about how the city implements its 2006 public art law and how much say the city should have over art projects installed on private property.
The sculpture garden Codding built to replace the covered wagon that long occupied that corner features three bronze sculptures.
One is an original piece by Texas artist Ron Schaefer, whom Williams said she came across online. The work features a mother doe and her fawn beside a little girl wearing a dress and carrying a handful of flowers.
“It was mostly just the thought of doing something innocent,” Williams said.
Schaefer said Williams and Codding spotted a photo of a life-sized sculpture he did of two male deer locking horns, which he named “Texas Duel.” Schaefer's website says his goal is to “define wildlife ... for gifts, your home, office, trophy room and landscaping.”