“Bunny Foo Foo” — a 35-foot-tall leaping stainless steel rabbit — isn’t the only piece of art at Hall Wines in St. Helena that’s receiving public attention these days.
The winery on Highway 29 also is displaying a life-size white camel made of fiberglass that stares at an over-sized threading needle.
The camel is by American artist John Baldessari who also has a commission to create a duplicate camel for the new American embassy being built in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, according to news sources.
According to Buzzfeed.com, the U.S. State Department intends to spend $400,000 for the camel and needle, which is titled “Camel Contemplating Needle.” This $400,000 comes from taxpayer dollars, Buzzfeed pointedly notes.
“Public art which will be presented in the new embassy should reflect the values of a predominantly Islamic country,” a spokesperson for the State Department is quoted as saying.
It is State Department policy to spend about 0.05 percent of the total cost of new construction on art, the spokesperson said.
Buzzfeed quotes Steven Beyer of Beyer Projects, the art dealer for the project, as saying that the $400,000 price tag “is actually a very reduced price for this sculpture.”
“There is an art market that makes these prices, and this is one of the most prominent American artists,” Beyer said.
“Bunny Foo Foo” is highly visible to traffic on Highway 29. “Camel Contemplating Needle” is not.