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A Cautionary Tale from Florida

This saga of problems with a commission in Hillsborough County, Florida, demonstrates once again the importance of clear two-way communication between artist and commissioner throughout the commissioning process.

Artist Bradley Arthur was commissioned to make two sculptures, entitled 'Components of Public Safety, l & ll', for locations outside the sheriffs' offices in Citrus Park and Ybor City, Hillsborough County. As part of his contract, Arthur was obliged to use metal from melted down guns collected in a weapons buy-back programme in his sculptures, which he combined with stainless steel.

The first problem came when the contract issued by the Hillsborough County Public Art Program require him to sign over his copyright in the sculptures to the county. This issue took several months to resolve and the artist retained copyright. As a result, the county has changed its contract and copyright now always remains with the artist.

The next problem was that the recycled gun metal was supplied to the artist eight months late meaning that the project ran over schedule. This did not seem to be a problem at the time.

Then after the works were completed and installed in October and December of 2002, the gun metal started to rust. The county's Public Art Committee wanted Arthur to clean the sculptures up and make them shiny again, as when they were first installed. Bradley Arthur contended that the rust was inevitable since he was obliged to use gunmetal which does rust. With deadlock between the parties, the county began legal proceedings against the artist. At this point, Arthur counterclaimed that the delay in supply of the gun metal cost him $38,000 in lost work.

After months of debate and dissension, the Public Art Committee has decided to drop its claims against the artist, who says this represents a moral victory for him.

To read more about the story go to www.weeklyplanet.com/2004-01-08

To read the final outcome go to www.sptimes.com

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