Animal commission calls on Mayor Ed Lee to terminate Tom Otterness art contracts 

The San Francisco Animal Control and Welfare Commission will vote Thursday on whether to send a letter to Mayor Ed Lee, the Arts Commission and the Board of Supervisors asking them to rescind the two art contracts with artist Tom Otterness.

One $750,000 contract was recently awarded to Otterness for sculptures in a station of the proposed Central Subway project, and another $700,000 was awarded a year ago for a sculpture at San Francisco General Hospital.

“San Francisco should not have on public display art made by someone who committed such an unforgivable act of premeditated animal cruelty,” the commission’s meeting notice says. “The letter will also urge the Arts Commission to ensure future recipients of public art funding have not participated in acts of animal cruelty.”

The City’s art contracts were placed on hold following a San Francisco Examiner article about how Otterness had killed a dog on film and called it art in 1977 at the age of 25.

He has repeatedly apologized, including most recently amid the controversy in San Francisco.

City officials said they were unaware of the incident, even though it has been written about in media outlets when Otterness was awarded art contracts in other cities, such as New York City.

Mayor Ed Lee reacted by calling for a freeze on The City’s contracts with Otterness and asked the Arts Commissions to review the matter. That was Sept. 17.

The Arts Commission has yet to make a decision about what to do with the art contracts. “The contracts are still on hold and the matter will be addressed at a future commission meeting,” Arts Commission spokeswoman Kate Patterson said Tuesday.

The contracts are controversial, but even more so since there is a mayor’s race and everyone’s a little tense about that. The City has paid the artist $365,750 so far for the artwork for the hospital.

The Animal Commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in Room 408.

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