VARA Controversy in the Heartland Settled: Verdict to the Artist
This may not play into Yahoo's favor should the dispute discussed yesterday actually go to court. From Artinfo.com:
A federal judge has ruled that artist Chapman Kelley’s Wildflower Works I, a 66,000-square-foot patch of wildflowers he planted in Chicago’s Daley Bicentennial Plaza in 1984, is, as the artist insisted, a work of art, reports the Chicago Sun Times.OK, so this decision, unlike the Buchel Vs. Mass MoCA one, seems sure to stand as precedent. Important among the issues raised during the case were these two, via the Chicago Sun Times:
Kelley brought the question to court after the Chicago Park District removed half the garden three years ago to make room after a bridge linking the plaza to Millennium Park was built. Kelley argued that because the garden was a work of public art, and therefore federally protected, he should have been told about the plans at least 90 days in advance.
Federal judge David H. Coar called his ruling in the case, believed to be the first time an artist using "alternative materials" has successfully sued under the Federal Visual Artists Rights Act (VERA), passed in 1990 to protect public art and its creators, "a great victory for all artists."
Under VERA, the district needed to notify Kelley 90 days before the reduction. Kelley argued he was informed only a few days before the work began, which gave him insufficient time to mount a legal fight or remove the plants.One of the things the justice system is supposed to do is take emotion out of a dispute and weigh the facts, well, matter-of-factly. That's as it should be. When it comes to determining damages for a wronged party, however, I feel it's perfectly appropriate to let emotions at least be considered. Kelley's feelings about this seem rather clear:
Among other arguments, Park District attorney Nelson Brown said Kelley's work was not art protected by VERA because it couldn't be copyrighted and was constantly changing. But  Kelley said even traditional paintings change over the years because of light and humidity. On the stand, Chicago appraiser Jane C.H. Jacob quoted Andy Warhol: "Art is anything you can get away with."
Some of the wildflowers still bloom, but Kelley will not visit the reduced version of Wildflower Works.In this instance, the judge has yet to determine the damages. One plant expert has estimate the piece to be worth about $1.5 million, though.
To see what's left would be like "going back to where your mother was run over by a train," he said, explaining it would be "too painful."