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Is the "Big Boy" statue a sign or art?

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
25,789
Points
61
As reported from the Detroit News:

Judge suggests Big Boy may be art
Canton Township statue could be considered public icon, he says

http://www.detnews.com/2004/metro/0404/15/b01-122419.htm

"The township last December ticketed Tony Matar, owner of the Big Boy restaurant on Ford Road at Canton Center Road, charging the 6-foot plastic statue is actually a sign. Canton zoning rules restrict businesses to one monument sign per property.
Matar insists the familiar icon is a statue and is not, therefore, subject to the sign rule."
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
Is a statue strictly art, or does the sign code omit statues for consideration as signs? I can agree with the iconic status, but that doesn't change the fact that it is a tool used to market their product. Apparently McDonald's needs to ditch the golden arches and go for 30' Ronald McDonald statues because they are art!
 

freewaytincan

Cyburbian
Messages
125
Points
6
It's called ex post facto, geniuses. Leave the guy and his restaurant alone!

Does that seem unreasonable of me?
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
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28,693
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71
freewaytincan said:
It's called ex post facto, geniuses. Leave the guy and his restaurant alone!

Does that seem unreasonable of me?
Freewaytincan would be right if this were a situation where the restauranteur had had a statue in place prior to the adoption or amendment of the municipality's sign ordinance. If the municipality had, after the erection of the statue, adopted some code provision prohibiting the icon and issued a ticket citing the new code section it would clearly be an ex post facto law. However, in this instance I believe that the restauranteur requested permission to erect the statue and was actually told no by their zoning board prior to its erection. It was only afterwards that the restauranteur put up the statue and was issued the ticket.
I bet the case will come down to what the Canton Township Zoning ordinance's definition of 'sign' is (i.e. does it include the term 'icon' or 'device').

ludes98 said:
Is a statue strictly art, or does the sign code omit statues for consideration as signs? I can agree with the iconic status, but that doesn't change the fact that it is a tool used to market their product. Apparently McDonald's needs to ditch the golden arches and go for 30' Ronald McDonald statues because they are art!
What I would find cosmically karmic is if the court rules that the Big Boy statue is "art", tells the township to stuff it and then later some enterprising individual opens up a restaurant next door called, say, "Pig Boy" and puts up an identical piece of 'art' in front of the restaurant (except with maybe a snout on his face)...
 
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Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
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34
If the sign ordinance regulates "graphics" as it does signs, they would appear to have a legitimate case. Absent of that, I'd say its fair game.
 

clare2582

Cyburbian
Messages
194
Points
7
Could what makes "art" art have to do with the context? From a view other than that of sign code and enforcement...If "Big Boy" was strategically placed somewhere as to display some kind of "artsy" notion or represent something other than the restaurant of which the Big Boy is a "mascot" and placed directly in front of, I think that would be different.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Our code specifically defines things like this as "signs." If it has a commercial message, its a sign.

On an off-topic but amusing note, a local auto shop painted a mural on his wall. It shows an Aztec Warrior cradling a maiden. As the Maiden's breast is partially exposed, the neighboring Baptist minister was quite "offended" by it. Our City Attorney said that it's not offensive legally and we should leave it alone. (I agreed.)
 

boilerplater

Cyburbian
Messages
916
Points
21
Art is useless, now go home!

Art should be characterized by uselessness. If its not, then its a design object. That is my problem with the term "functional art" Since the big boy statue's purpose is to work as advertising for the restaurant, it is designed to function as a sign. Have you ever seen billboards that incorporate 3d elements? This judge's ruling would make those at least partially art.

To try to make art serve a function is to deprive it of its uselessness. Design can be artful, but it isn't art. And I wish more desing were artful.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Art vote: Yes

Of course it is art... everything is art, right?

When I was little I remember going to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and there was a toliet. Not to pee in, but to look at. It was art.

If that 'ter-let' is art, them Big-Boys is art. :)
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
And to think that we wouldn't even be having this discussion if it wasn't for Andy Warhol.


I would consider it a sign up until there is no longer a Big Boy chain to advertise.
 

Breed

Cyburbian
Messages
592
Points
17
It's a sign. But does that make it wrong? I'm not sure. I do think there are valid reasons for having unique signs, such as a Big Boy statue. Of course, because of the commonness of a Big Boy statue in some places, it may no longer be "unique." But I do think there needs to be some provision that allows for some leeway with respect to signs that are unique. I guess that's where a Architectural Review Board comes in. There's a fine line between Joe's Bait Shop that has a big fish as a sign and a 65' foot Jesus.
 
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