Bamboozled in Buffalo
by Michael F. Rizzo
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Pub Date 15 May 2024 | Archive Date 14 Mar 2024
Explore Seattle, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Titles
Are we allowed to scrutinize public art, even if the public doesn’t pay for it? It only took the city of Buffalo 15 minutes to shut it off and five days for Mayor Jimmy Griffin to tear down Billie Lawless’ sculpture "Green Lightning" in 1984.
It may have had something to do with dancing neon figures that resembled Mr. Peanut. But, to this day it’s unclear if the artist tricked the city or the city acted hastily.
For the first time, through interviews, court documents, and press clippings, the story of "Green Lightning" is told.
The story of "Green Lightning" is a cautionary tale about the importance of public art education. If the public is not aware of the different meanings and interpretations of art, they are more likely to react to it in a negative way. It is important for people to understand that art is subjective, and that what one person finds offensive, another person may find beautiful.
Self Publishing review:
A well-researched portrait of artist Billie Lawless and his controversial sculpture "Green Lightning" is revealed in Michael F. Rizzo's "Fifteen Minutes: Bamboozled in Buffalo." Rizzo analyses the process by which the infamously lascivious sculpture was mistakenly commissioned by Buffalo city officials who were offended by the finished product, and swiftly ordered it to be dismantled, resulting in a court case that Lawless eventually won. Revealing in part the conventionality of the staid art establishment, as well as Lawless's singular vision, this book not only exposes how an artist tricked a powerful clique of public art commissioners, but also celebrates the zeitgeist of 80's post-modern design, for an inspiring celebration of art's power to challenge the status quo.