An Armature that is Clamped to Lampposts for Displaying Public Art


Prepared for City Council; illustrations in bold are linked to this page.


September 26, 2006


Councilmembers, Ladies and Gentlemen, Staff:


I'm Richard Katz. I wish to show you a device (armature2establishingshot.jpg; armature7sideview.jpg ; armature7xdoneplane.jpg) and encourage you to have a dozen or so made, so Belmont can display some art publicly.


(pointing to model) armaturedemoestab.jpg


Here's the street, here's the sidewalk, here are some members of the Public, they're looking at the sculpture. This post represents one of Belmont's lamp posts. It belongs to the citizens and is maintained by Public Works. Public Works put these Donaldson SealClamps(R) on there -- one would do, but if the Director feels safer with two, then two it is.


(pointing to armature on model) armaturedemoxCU.jpg


This aluminum device, with two slots, front and back, holds the art.


The art has to have a slide, or shoe, to fit in the slots. armature6slots.jpg


(pointing to slide/shoe)


Other than that, it's whatever art the artist creates.


That slide and shoe arrangement is like the shoe on a camera, where you attach a flash for the camera. It's also like a slide and receiver,


(pointing to and disassembling rollerskate "blade")


like on this SwitchIt rollerskate here. The Olsen brothers invented this skate twenty years ago, back in 1986 or so. See how you slide the running gear out of the left skate and put it in the right skate, and vice versa, to rotate your wheels? or to change over to iceblades. Very clever; good invention.


John Browning invented the slide and receiver mechanism back in 1905, over a hundred years ago, for his Colt .45. He was a great American inventor.


I'm a biologist, so I like to do experiments. I sent my nephew Elliot a thousand dollars to make a piece of art, a sculpture, to demonstrate my invention. All I told him was that it had to slide nicely into the armature. So here it is, the right side half of my nephew's sculpture,


(pointing to "Cells" by Elliot Katz)


he calls it "Cells", like cells in biology,


Let me get it out of this box here, and slide it into the device, in one of these slots. First I have to slide out this airplane, it's a nice thing, nothing special, just a placeholder really. I like to call the device, with the slots for the slides, The Armature, but a lot of people don't know what an "armature" is in sculpture. People can call it The Belmont Armature. There, there it is. They'll know what it's for, even if they don't know what it is, it's for displaying works of art, like this one. I may not know what I like, but I know what art is. There, that's beautiful. My nephew, he's good. Look at that. Beautiful.


(distributing postcard size photographs of sculpture mounted on Belmont Armature on Western Drive in Point Richmond across from Keller's Beach)


So I put up a nine foot piece of four inch copper pipe on Western Drive in Richmond, and did everything I had to do (picture1 of Richard putting up Elliot's sculpture) (picture2 of Richard putting up Elliot's sculpture) (picture3 of Richard putting up Elliot's sculpture) (picture4 of Richard putting up Elliot's sculpture) to get everything ready to display my nephew's artwork, and the one color photograph I printed out for each of you of what it looks like armeliotonwestern2794.jpg. Now imagine that you are walking by, and you see this, and imagine that there is a person up there looking out the window of the top story of that wooden house there, and he gets to observe the people who walk by, and how they react to the public display of art on the pole. Well, you can see, there are some other art pieces out there, and nobody ever notices them much. People walking by didn't even pay much attention to the airplane "found art" piece that I had out there for awhile, as a placeholder. But from the minute I put my nephew's piece out there, people would stop and gesticulate and get animated about it, of course I couldn't hear what they were saying, but it was quite the definitive experiment. It works.


The device, the armature, The Belmont Armature, is NOT art. It may be nice looking, but it's just hardware. It's the same as anything else that gets clamped to a lamppost, or streetlight: The Public Works Director takes care of it and makes sure that everything is safe. I've never met a Director yet who had anything to say about whether art was good or bad or indifferent; but every Director I've ever met makes it Safety First, takes safety seriously, and never damages the merchandise.


The City won't have any problem getting good art like this for display. This is a great country, we have good young artists, good old artists, art students, they're all champing at the bit to fill those slots with interesting art. There's a University with an art department right here in town, and one of their courses in fact is Art 120 Sculpture. What you have here is a standardized specification that cuts through the jungle of the Process of public art; standardized enough so that buying or leasing a piece of public art for the City is no different from buying or leasing a car.


Thanks very much. I hope you have some questions; I've tried to keep this short, and keep out any salesmanship, I just have a passionate interest in getting more public art out there. The public wants public art; that's a given.

I've put some time into this, as you can tell (armaturefabrication.jpg), and so I hope you'll want to use what I've made here.

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