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The Big Blue Bear gets bombed

Last week, a creative art bomber added a bit of bathroom humor to the iconic Big Blue Bear (officially known as "I See What You Mean") that stands outside the Colorado Convention Center. And like most unsanctioned art — remember the origami cranes outside the Denver Art Museum? — it was quickly removed.

But not forgotten. "We still have it, and it's taking up a lot of space; it's about two and a half feet tall," Brian Kitts, spokesman for the city's Arts & Venues department, says of the blue papier-mâché poop that was clandestinely laid down below the Lawrence Argent sculpture. "He is not your average bear, and this was not your average pile of poo. Someone knew what they were doing."

Should that someone step forward to claim the art, Kitts promises not to press charges. "Some people want these things back. In the case of the ball and chain that was made out of yarn, they actually wanted it back," he notes. Those artists, members of the Ladies Fancywork Society, had scratched the Big Blue Bear, so the city asked them to pay for repairs. "But in this case," Kitts says, "nothing happened. It's creative fun and not criminal. If it makes people laugh, then I'm all for it."

The city will keep the poop for a couple of weeks before throwing it away, Kitts adds. (And art bombers will have plenty of additional targets this year. Kitts says that more than a dozen public-art installations have been planned around the city for 2012.)

Even if the poop is destroyed, however, its existence inspired another take on some of Denver's public art. After seeing the piece, former Westword art critic Renna Shesso wrote, "Okay, you just re-sparked my fantasy of repositioning John McEnroe's 'National Velvet' behind Luis Jiménez's 'Mustang.'"

And then she proceeded to act on that fantasy, merging two of Denver's most controversial public-art works — "Mustang," aka Bluecifer, which has been mocked around the world, and "National Velvet," a globular, glowing neon-red pile that earned the nickname Saggy Boob Electric Penis.

Bearly there: Last week, CU-Boulder student Andy Duann's photo of a tranquilized bear falling out of a tree on campus went viral after appearing on the CU Independent's website. News agencies worldwide picked it up within hours, and its popularity caused the Independent site to crash twice. Soon, web surfers began using the image as raw material for Internet humor.

But even as the shot became a meme and GIF favorite, reports broke that Duann was expressing frustration that the Independent had allowed publications across the globe to run the photo without charge and exploring legal action against CU. On Monday, Duann told Westword's Michael Roberts that he isn't planning to sue, but he does want his copyright back.

"I don't want any money," says Duann, an engineering student. "I just want my school to at least respect me and respect all the CU Independent students who work for them for free, as volunteers. None of us get anything, not even a penny. So how come the copyright goes to them? And how come they get to distribute the photos? That doesn't make any sense at all."

Duann is scheduled to meet with Christopher Braider, overseer of CU's in-transition journalism department, this week; he plans to ask for the copyright of the bear photo and request that new rules be put in place to prevent what happened this time around.

 
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