With the price for scrap metal running high, thieves recently ripped apart a public sculpture by the artist Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997). Now missing is her copper fountain, entitled Tide Pool, an outdoor centerpiece created for the Commons in San Francisco.
Falkenstein Foundation president, Phil Linhares, said in a statement: "It is especially disheartening that this selfish and thoughtless act took place only days after a major 50-year survey of the late artist’s work opened at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts in Los Angeles with the accompanying introduction of a book documenting the life’s work of this prolific and influential artist."
Bay Area-artist Claire Falkenstein studied at the University of California, Berkeley; later, she taught studio art courses at Mills College in Oakland and the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA), now the San Francisco Art Institute. She maintained a life long friendship with Clyfford Still and other significant CSFA artist-teachers of the era.
Relocating to Europe in the 1950s, Falkenstain was associated with many influential American and European artists of the time; among her best-known works are the gates at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, Italy. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fine Arts in 1978.
Later, she moved to Venice, California, turning her attention from organic "structures" to painting after 1990. She produced over 4,000 sculptures, paintings and drawings.
"This most recent incident is but one of scores of destructive thefts of public artworks and monuments taking place throughout the nation; no cemetery, place of worship or work of art in a public setting is safe from thievery," says Linhares of Tide Pool's loss.
Copper fountains, bronze urns, plaques and architectural elements are stolen to be sold for a few dollars to unscrupulous scrap metal dealers. Explains Linhares, "In their wake they leave a void, robbing the public of enjoyment and diminishing our cultural heritage."
Claire Falkenstein is currently the subject of a major exhibition in Los Angeles, entitled Claire Falkenstein: An Expansive Universe, at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, currently on view through April 28, 2012, in conjunction with the Getty initiative, Pacific Standard Time. The exhibition coincides with the release of the newly published, comprehensive book on the artists’ work and life, Claire Falkenstein.
"We’re very distressed about the destruction of one more public work by Claire Falkenstein," says Jack Rutberg of Jack Rutberg Fine Arts. "Fortunately, we can celebrate a major exhibition in our gallery now and pay tribute to this remarkably pioneering artist."