Sunday in the Park with Tom

froggy.jpgBy Saturday night, we’ll be covered in tattoos and penniless from all of the abstract gambling, but we’ll find some way (hitchhike? “borrow” a Vespa?) to make it to the Sunday morning talk by sculptor Tom Otterness at The Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University. What better way to begin the final day of the fairs than with an outdoor breakfast feast, an informal talk by Otterness, and guided tours of the museum’s sculpture park?

Otterness is perhaps best known for “Life Underground,” his more than 100 mischievous, cartoony bronze figures scattered about the A/C/E subway station at 14th St. and 8th Ave. in Manhattan. His roly-poly corps of people, animals, and objects inhabits a parallel universe that teems with curiosity and industry: they sweep up piles of pennies, tote oversized tools, and peek under fences. All the while, the supercute figures toy subversively with such themes as love, money, security, and class.

“A lot of artists that do public sculpture think of site-specific work. I try to think of subject-specific work–in other words, if it’s Battery Park and the World Trade Center and the World Financial Center, I think, oh, it’s the financial community, so it’s content around that,” Otterness told us when we spoke with him just before the opening of his first major gallery exhibition in five years (and Marlborough Chelsea‘s inaugural show). “I try to boil it down into this universal form, one that includes…major cultures as well as the smiley face and pop, universal sign-symbols. I’m trying to meld all of those things together to create a universal language that hopefully crosses cultures and that everybody can read simply.”