Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Butt-Fugly Public Art of the Week-- December 20th

Elemental Intervals by William Freeland

North side of South Street halfway between 10th and 11th Streets.

                     This shit has always bothered me. A whole shitload of limestone rocks needlessly trapped in a wire mesh prison... forever. What did those stones do? I don't remember them being in a trial by jury. I'd rather see the side of that crappy parking garage than the pieces of shit that were tacked on to beautify it. That's pathetic.
                     1986 was not a good year for public art in this city. Some of Philadelphia's most atrocious outdoor art pieces were installed in that year. I could literally take a list of 1986 public artworks and do 13 Butt-Fugly Public Art articles. Of all those crappy art pieces, this one is definitely the worst.
                     In 1985, that the block-long supermarket parking garage behemoth on the 1000 block of South Street needed to satisfy its Percent-for-Art requirement.  John Acciavatti of The South Street Development Company commissioned William Freeland to design a piece of art that would distract your eye away from the fact that there's a gigantic-ass parking garage on South Street.
                    Freeland responded by entrapping four-and-a-half tons of limestone rocks way up in the air, surrounded by a thirty-five by twenty-seven foot area of copper and aluminum shit. The rock-jail was installed in 1986, and has gone unnoticed since then. Add to that the fact that one of the city's greatest pieces of public art is directly across the street and you end up with a 4.5 ton piece of ignored-ass sculpture.
                   If there's ANY meaning to this shit, I don't fucking know it. Maybe these rocks were sitting in a pile in William Freeland's backyard, taunting him. Perhaps he intended to use them for some kind of construction project but the souls of dead criminals inhabited the rocks and harassed him day and night. When the commission for this piece of shit came along, Freeland entrapped the rocks in that wire mesh to make sure they would never bother anyone again.Then he called it Elemental Intervals just to throw people off the scent.
                  Elemental Intervals? Like intervals between elements? If that's what he wanted, he should have illustrated the interval between Beryllium and Boron. How does two rock jail cells illustrate Elemental Intervals? See that metal arrow under the one of the right? It's like it's telling you to look away from it! Good advice. I suggest we all take it.


  1. I honestly always thought that was some kind of structural thing, or some kind of strange windbreak or something. I didn't have any idea it was supposed to be art.

  2. On the bright side, you can get a nice bird's eye view of the Magic Gardens across the street by standing on the roof of the garage, and when you're there you can't see Elemental Intervals at all!

  3. The stairwell in between the rock prisons is great for pissing in. That's elemental, performed in intervals daily.

  4. every time I look at that shit am like what the shit IS that!