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Piglet Sculpture Gets Unanimous Approval From City Council


Sacramento is already home to a 56-foot-long red rabbit, which hangs from the ceiling of a Sacramento International Airport terminal.  Soon, it will be home to an 18-foot tall metallic piglet outside the new downtown basketball arena.

The Sacramento City Council has unanimously approved the purchase of an $8 million,  metallic sculpture by New York artist Jeff Koons for the plaza of the Sacramento Kings' future home.

More than 50 people voiced their opinions on the piece at Tuesday's council meeting.

Sacramento artist David Garibaldi opposed the Koons sculpture and asked the council to work harder to find qualified local artists instead.

"During this day, I've heard we -the local artists- don't have what it takes to pull off a project on this scale," Garibaldi said. "Well, our NBA team didn't need to have the best record in the league for us to fight for them."

But Kim Squaglia said she her work got a boost from being displayed next to a piece by Koons a decade ago - and Sacramento artists could get the same benefit. 

"This proximity to Koons helped open many doors for me," Squaglia said. "It increased the value of my work as well as my exposure -putting my work on the international art map."

The council also voted to accept $3 million in private donations to help pay for the sculpture, called “Piglet” or “Coloring Book #4” and $1 million from Marcy Friedman for more local art for the arena.

Matt Weber was one of the artists opposed to the purchase.

"When I look at that sculpture in that proposal, I don't see Sacramento," Webber said. "When I look at TV at some basketball game, that's what's gonna be seen? A colorful, scribbled pig?"

But local artist Milton Bowens said the sculpture would bring attention to local artists and increase in value.
"I don't care if you spend $15 million on this sculpture. Because in 20 years -and it's a safe bet that Sacramento will still be here in 20 years- it will be worth $50 million," Bowens said. "It is increasing in value just with this conversation tonight. It ain't even got here yet."
The crowd was evenly split - and so big that some people had to watch the debate from overflow seating outside council chambers.

The Council voted 7-0 to approve the project.

Of the $8 million, $2.5 million would come from the city. The rest would come from the Sacramento Kings and three of the Kings owners.

The council asked Mrs. Friedman to consider limiting her donation so that only artists from the six-county Sacramento region could benefit.


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