December 07, 2009

Buying Beyond the Chief

UI panel to look at buying 'Beyond the Chief'

By Melissa MerliThe set of 12 "Native Host" panels--they were damaged six times and two were stolen over this past semester--was meant to be displayed through the end of this year in the 1200 block of West Nevada Street, where the UI cultural houses are located.

"I could see them staying here, and this place deserves them," Heap of Birds said of the campus. He also said he's offering the university the installation at a "deep discount."

Twelve similar "Native Hosts" signs by Heap of Birds displayed in British Columbia were valued by two appraisers at $120,000, or $10,000 each. One of the appraisals was given to the Champaign County state's attorney's office earlier this year after UI student Mark Nepermann was arrested for stealing two of the signs in Urbana.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz charged Nepermann with misdemeanor rather than felony theft; the more serious charge of felony is generally filed when the value of the stolen items is more than $300. She based the value on an American Logo and Sign invoice; the company in Moore, Okla., manufactured the signs for Heap of Birds at a cost of $88.65 each.

Asked about the value that the state put on his work, the artist called it ridiculous and said it shows many folks don't understand fine or conceptual art. For example, a Rembrandt would not be valued according to the cost of the canvas, paints and brushes, he said.
Comment:  As you can see in these photos

Cheryl Cash's Photos--Edgar Heap of Birds Closing Events and Exhibit

they turned the damaged signs into another learning opportunity. The art's revised message went something like this:Here's what happens when Indians assert themselves. They get attacked by non-Indians who fear and loathe them. It's happened throughout our history and it's still happening today.For more on the subject, see Anti-Illiniwek Sign Damaged and Signs Recall Illinois Indians.

No comments: