Yahoo Company Art Exhibit Stirs Up Controversy

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

If you look carefully when driving through Sunnyvale, you will count more than four dozen pieces of public art; some big, some small, and all of them, now the object of a law suit as the artist is crying 'Yahoo!' for all the wrong reasons.

We cannot remember the last time in human history that a few wires with reflectors have generated such defining and monumental silence.

Yahoo! executives are neither talking, nor returning calls about the public art exhibit outside the company's Sunnyvale headquarters; a rendition of a wired world, eminating from what once were wetlands.

The problem is that it isn't supposed to look that way. The artist had something else in mind.

Sharon Louden did not speak today from her New York City studio, but her agent did.

"She's pretty upset about the whole situation," he told us. "The experience has left her raw."

After completion, the art exhibit, called 'Reflecting Tips', had long, moundy, natural grass. Yahoo paid $100,000-dollars for the work to comply with a Sunnyvale requirement for pubic art.

However, last year, someone from the city mistook that long grass for bad maintenance. He complained to Yahoo!, which then took a weed-whacker to it.

Now, Sharon Louden wants her work restored, so she has sued, claiming federal, county, and state law protects public art in its original form.

"What the municipal code addresses is that if there is public art, you are required to maintain it properly," says John Pilger, Sunnyvale spokesperson.

In short, we have a contractual dispute between a suffering artist and her super sized client -- one with an abundance of gardeners, but too little to say.

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