Kendall Bruns' Bigfoot Sighting

The outdoor sculpture is best described as Prehistoric Pop Art. Inside the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, tucked behind some shrubs, BIGFOOT walks, thanks to some well-placed two-by-four

Apr 12, 2001 at 2:06 pm

The outdoor sculpture is best described as Prehistoric Pop Art. Inside the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, tucked behind some shrubs, BIGFOOT walks, thanks to some well-placed two-by-fours. The statue is intentionally silly. Its artist, Art Academy of Cincinnati alum Kendall Bruns, wouldn't have it any other way.

There are approximately 45 entries in the 21st biennial Art Academy of Cincinnati Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition at the Civic Garden Center, but it's safe to say that Bruns' BIGFOOT is the funniest. Fake brown fur is stretched across a plywood figure of the famous woodland monster. Its outstretched arms and legs are positioned into the famous BIGFOOT strut. The face is colored an eerie green.

For drivers heading down Reading Road, a glimpse of Bruns' BIGFOOT offers an unexpected shock. I wouldn't be surprised to hear about some traffic accidents at the corner of Reading and William Howard Taft in the next few weeks.

Art as clever as this has a way of making an impact.

"I have a friend who's obsessed with Bigfoot," says Bruns, 23, speaking recently at the Civic Garden Center. "Besides, I think it's good to have some fun with art."

It's been close to a year since I last spoke with Bruns. His life has moved on appropriately. He graduated from the Art Academy last spring. He has a full-time job designing Web sites for Romelli Design Inc. He planned to visit Indonesia courtesy of an Art Academy travel scholarship, but political tensions there forced him to delay the trip.

Instead, last fall, he took a portion of his scholarship money, jumped into his car and headed west. Bruns had seen plenty of Europe when his father was in the Air Force. What he now wanted to experience firsthand was traveling to parts of America he'd seen previously only on postcards.

A series of mailed drawings and diary updates kept friends, family and acquaintances informed of his travels through the Badlands and Utah's Wasatch Mountains. He visited obligatory attractions like Mount Rushmore and Hollywood. One afternoon, Bruns watched the pillars of smoke from the Yellowstone National Park fires hundreds of miles away.

"It was great to be able to take the time to do it," Bruns says, speaking at a Corryville coffeehouse after touring the Civic Garden Center. "I wanted to drive. I wanted to see the landscape change. I didn't want to fly from one city to another. I wanted to be able to see all the stuff in between."

It's safe to say BIGFOOT was partially inspired by Bruns' way-out-west adventures. For an emerging artist, the opportunity to travel, draw and be immersed in new environments offers an invaluable education that goes beyond classrooms.

More importantly, Bruns returned to Cincinnati invigorated by his Western adventures. He wants to contribute to Cincinnati's growing visual arts scene. BIGFOOT is just a taste of things to come.

"People complain that Cincinnati is no Chicago or New York City, but we have an opera and a symphony and a contemporary art museum," Bruns says. "We have a lot here, and I feel like I haven't extinguished all of my opportunities.

"When I visit my friends in New York City or San Francisco, all they talk about is how they can't pay their bills. Living in Cincinnati, I can pay my bills and still have enough money to visit them."

BIGFOOT will remain standing with the other Civic Garden Center sculptures through April 29. Then Bruns will dismantle him for storage at his parent's house in Delhi. It's unclear whether he will reinstall BIGFOOT somewhere else in Cincinnati. But he plans to play a more active role in the local arts community through his sculpture, original music and video art.

Bruns is full of enthusiasm, and that's something Cincinnati needs desperately.

Contact steve ramos: [email protected]