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City art prompts questions; piece will go if counterfeit
By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald
Amid a swirling cloud of suspicion, Enumclaw officials scrapped the formal unveiling of the city's latest work of public art.
Entitled “Boys in the Band,” the bronze sculpture has been displayed on the City Hall lawn, pointed toward the intersection of Griffin Avenue and Porter Street, since June. The city's plan was to formally unveil the piece Saturday as the kickoff to Art Walk, a celebration of the arts that delivered a crowd to downtown Enumclaw.
Plans were scuttled, however, when The Seattle Times reported in its Thursday edition that the piece, which cost the city nearly $5,700, might be less than anticipated.
The Times article noted the artist credited with creating “Boys in the Band” may exist only in cyber circles. The name Jim Davidson, etched into Enumclaw's piece, has been linked to counterfeit pieces of art.
In the Times article, the city's cultural programs manager, Gary LaTurner, defended the piece and indicated the city would go ahead with the formal unveiling. By that afternoon, however, the city's stance had shifted dramatically.
In a posting on the city's Web site, Mayor John Wise - himself an artist - said the unveiling was being cancelled. He noted the city would investigate the matter and, if the piece is determined to be counterfeit, “it will be immediately removed and destroyed.”
The posting also noted the newspaper ran its story “without proving or disproving the counterfeiting claim.”
“Boys in the Band” has had a rocky existence. It arrived broken and the city attempted to return the piece, but the online seller, www.iwishihadthat.com, refused to take the piece back. The seller did, however, refund the city $1,000, due to the broken piece.
The sculpture is of three young boys playing musical instruments. Broken was a drumstick in a young drummer's hand. City employees used a strong welding glue to fix the problem.
A Google search of “Jim Davidson sculptor” turned up the following:
From the Web site bronzecopyright.com, several postings warn against buying anything with the “Jim Davidson” signature. The repeated warning is that no such artist exists and anything bearing his name is likely in violation of copyright laws. Further, would-be buyers are warned that the pieces may not be made of bronze, as advertised, but are often made from a cheaper metal.
Another Web site, www.artspace2000, has a banner headline reading, “Professional Sculptors are Being Counterfeited.” It warns against cheaply-made pieces bearing “fake artist's names,” and mentions Jim Davidson specifically.
LaTurner said the city was not aware of the Davidson name when the purchase was made. “Boys in the Band” was listed for sale without an artist's credit.