Snapshot: Corporate Art
Oversized Shell Toe Adidas shoe sculptures are located at the corporation’s North American headquarters. For Adidas, the art is the foundation of a publicity stunt and multimedia ad campaign. (The left shoe was painted by artists from the West Coast, while a New-York-based collective provided decoration for the right shoe.) For residents and visitors of Portland, the shoes might represent conflicting meanings: love of skate shoes; East Coast-West Coast rivalry; a splash of colour in the urban environment; an irritating corporate intrusion.
Meanwhile, a huge sculpture of a drill bit looms outside a big-box power centre on the side of Vancouver’s Grandview Highway. Shavings embedded in surrounding landscaping are engraved with Canadian Tire advertising keywords like “fixing” and “driving”. The municipality required this development to include a public art component as a condition of site rezoning. Apparently, the developer’s plan promised artwork that would invoke the location’s “layers of metaphoric meaning“.
A recent installment of the Kunstlercast deals with the topic of commercial and corporate art by discussing examples from Troy, New York. Kunstler points out widespread public fondness for an older form of corporate art – hand-painted advertising signs that adorn old buildings. Many of these peeling old ads have been lovingly restored in the name of local heritage while modern-day billboards and corporate sculptures enjoy considerably less popularity.
What do you think – can corporate art meaningfully contribute to good urban design? If well done, can it advertise a company while simultaneously making the city more beautiful or interesting? Let us know in the comments or in the Planning Pool forums. Creative thinkers are also invited to offer their metaphoric interpretations of the giant drill bit.