700-Pound Wolf Sculpture Taken From Gowanus Sidewalk, Artist Says
GOWANUS — Like the stealthy creature that inspired it, a wolf sculpture that graced a Brooklyn street disappeared as quickly and quietly as it arrived.
A massive street art installation of a female wolf vanished from a quiet block of Butler Street around Jan. 31, about three weeks after it first popped up and delighted street art fans.
The white concrete sculpture, of a crouching mother wolf with a lolling tongue and long claws, was signed "Wolf Tits."
A man who said he was responsible for the guerilla art told DNAinfo New York he had no idea what had happened to the sculpture. The artist, who declined to give his name, said the sculpture weighed 700 pounds and took him about two years and $500 in materials to build.
"It's unfortunate that it didn't live longer, but I can't complain about it," said the artist, adding that the work wasn't approved by the city. "It’s fair game. It's not sanctioned, so it's up for the people to decide what to do with it."
He noted that street art was sometimes sold on Craigslist or eBay, though no listings for the sculpture could be found on those sites on Monday.
Though the lupine sculpture's public life was short-lived, the artist said he was happy with the work and the reception it received.
He described the piece as "site specific" and said it was inspired by the history of 233 Butler St., which was once the New York headquarters of the ASPCA. A drinking trough for horses was installed in front of the building in 1913, and years later it was filled with concrete, perhaps to prevent people from tossing trash into it.
When the artist spotted the former horse trough about two years ago, it looked to him like an empty pedestal hungry for a sculpture, he said. A she-wolf seemed like a fitting subject because mother wolves are protectors of their young, just as the ASPCA is for all animals, he said.
The artist said he has had a lifelong obsession with wolves and considers them "the coolest creatures in the world."
"I’m very dedicated to the idea of the wolf being a caregiver, a loving mother," he said. "I want people to see it and feel warm and fuzzy inside."
The artist said he is also responsible for painting the phrase "Wolf Tits" on a wall above the Gowanus Canal, and for various spray-painted images of a wolf with prominent breasts.
Street art observers have spotted the imagery in Brooklyn, Boston and New Orleans, though it's not clear if one artist is responsible for all of the work. The artist who claimed responsibility for the sculpture said he doesn't work in a fixed location and has been active since about 2005.
He has sold only one piece, a rug, but will soon have a print for sale by Pandemic Gallery near Brooklyn's Navy Yard. A phone call and email to the gallery were not immediately returned.
The Butler Street sculpture was the artist's first public foray into three-dimensional work, he said.
The artist said he didn't think the city was responsible for the removal of the sculpture, because it was on an out-of-the-way block where few people would be bothered by it.
The sculpture was installed on the sidewalk across from where the Gowanus Canal dead-ends. The city's Department of Environmental Protection is currently restoring a pump house across from the sculpture. The agency did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Workers in the building next to the sculpture said they were disappointed the art animal had loped off into the sunset.
"Being that we're an old ASCPA building, coming out and seeing a wild animal sitting there was pretty fun," said Osei Essed, an employee at Retrofret Guitars, inside 233 Butler St. "I had hoped it would be part of our new iconography. Maybe its time was up."