City Beat

Sculpture by world-renowned artist Jeff Koons to appear at Sacramento arena

Sacramento and the Kings have an agreement to buy an $8 million sculpture from world-renowned artist Jeff Koons. The sculpture would be showcased within the downtown arena plaza.
Sacramento and the Kings have an agreement to buy an $8 million sculpture from world-renowned artist Jeff Koons. The sculpture would be showcased within the downtown arena plaza. Sacramento Kings

The city of Sacramento and the Kings have agreed to commission world-renowned artist Jeff Koons to create a sculpture for outside the new downtown arena.

In what is the largest budget for a public art installation in the region’s history, the Kings, the city and three team owners will pay $8 million for the art. Another $1.5 million from the Kings and local philanthropist and artist Marcy Friedman will commission work from local artists to be displayed at the arena.

Koons’ sculpture will be the fifth in his “Coloring Book” collection, a series of towering stainless steel sculptures that have been displayed in some of the most prominent art museums in the world. The works of art are colorful and are “intended to capture a child’s ecstatic enjoyment of the world,” according to a Kings news releases. They’re intended to resemble the character Piglet from the “Winnie the Pooh” books, as colored by a young child.

The sculpture will be 18 feet tall and 9 feet wide. Koons has not created the sculpture yet, but plans to have it completed by the time the arena opens in October 2016.

The City Council will vote on whether to approve the contract with Koons at its March 10 meeting.

Lial Jones, director of the Crocker Art Museum, said the sculpture will be the most significant piece of public art work in the city’s history.

“I do think Jeff Koons is perhaps the biggest art star in the world today,” she said. “I think it’s an extremely significant work for Sacramento, and it will become an iconic image for the city.”

In a statement released by the Kings, Koons said, “With all the excitement around the new arena, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to have my work prominently displayed in Sacramento.”

“Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time in Sacramento, from discovering the downtown area to visiting the train museum for inspiration,” Koons said. “To have Coloring Book interact with the vibrancy of the city and its citizens is going to be fantastic.”

A native of York, Pa., Koons is among the most prolific living artists. His work has been displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and in galleries throughout the world. His sculpture “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold at an auction in 2013 for $58.4 million, the highest paid at an auction for work made by a living artist.

“What’s truly historic is the city has never had the opportunity to purchase a work of this nature because we haven’t had the funding,” said Shelly Willis, the director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.

The Kings announced in May that $5.5 million from the arena construction budget would go toward public art at the facility and in the surrounding public plaza that is under construction. Roughly half of that money is from the city of Sacramento’s contribution to the arena financing. Team chairman Vivek Ranadive and minority owners Kevin Nagle and Phil Oates have agreed to contribute an additional $1 million apiece to help commission the Koons sculpture.

Friedman’s $1 million donation and $500,000 from the Kings’ initial contribution will fund the local art. Friedman said having the Koons sculpture share a space with the work of local artists will bring more attention to the Sacramento artwork.

“I interact with artists, and I just felt I couldn’t face them without saying you will have an opportunity to have role in the project,” Friedman said. “This is your community, you love it like I do.”

At a total of $9.5 million, the budget for the art at the arena is by far the largest in the 38-year history of the city’s Art in Public Places Program, which requires developers of public buildings to commit 2 percent of construction costs to public art.

The Kings are building and will operate the arena, but the facility will be owned by the city. The arena’s total budget is $477 million, with a construction budget estimated at $270 million.

The arena art funding is also larger than the $8 million spent on public art at the Sacramento International Airport expansion.

The City Council will vote on whether to approve the contract with Koons at its March 10 meeting.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.

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