Monday, October 21, 2013

It did "change Pittsburgh for a bit!"

...just as Florentijn Hoffman, the artist who created it predicted it would. On some days tens of thousands of people came out to see it. It's estimated that over a million people visited the duck during its stay in the 'Burgh. It brought people together, and those who came out to see it spent money. In an economically-struggling city the size of Pgh any money being spent is a good thing.

Now, however, it is gone. It was set to depart from Point State Park at 11pm on Sunday night, after greeting and bidding farewell to the nearly 70,000 who came out to see the Steelers play the Ravens just across the river. There was a concerted effort by many locals to keep the duck in Pittsburgh, but even after a petition containing nearly 5,000 signatures was presented,  it wasn't meant to be.

“From the beginning we always said October 20th is its date,” said Paul Organisak, vice president for programming at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “The work of art has always been, was meant to be, a temporary installation. The power of it is the concentrated period of time to bring people together knowing that they must get down to see it.”

A project of Florentijn Hoffman, an artist from the Netherlands, the duck was over 30 ft tall and 40 ft in length. It was quite a spectacle in the river at its mooring near the fountain and the park, and even those who didn't come to the park to see it were able to see it from many places in the city. 

Internet artists and those with photoshop software adorned the duck in Pirate Gear, Steeler gear and even Pittsburgh Penguins attire. It attracted attention and often was the subject of many conversations. 

In spite of the effort to keep it here, it is gone. It will be dis-assembled and stored at least until next year. Pittsburgh marked the place of the duck's first appearance in the US, and contractual obligations will prevent it from being displayed anywhere until January of 2014. It is a sad fate for such an impressive artwork, as a multi-stop river tour of such cities as Cincinnati and St. Louis would have surely brought people out and provided economic boosts along the way.

Such is life. Negotiations may continue to bring the duck back out, but all sides at present refuse to budge. The artist is basically of the mindset, "It's mine. I'll do with it what I want!"

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