Role of “Cardiff Kook”  in drawing attention to social issues, Cardiff, CA,

The sculpture was commissioned by the Cardiff Botanical Society.  It was installed in 2007 at the entrances to the San Elijo State Beach campground on Coast Highway 101. The sculpture,  Magic Carpet Ride/The Cardiff Kook is registered and archived by Public Art in Public Places. 

Public response

The sculpture was criticized by surfers for its unrealistic depiction of a surfer. Other critics maintained that the figure was too thin  and it resembled the figure of a novice surfer about to fall off his board (as the artist intended) rather than that of a more experienced surfer. The early criticism surprised both the Botanical Society and artist who stated that he did not expect the piece to be as widely misunderstood as it was upon its unveiling.

Alterations to Magic Carpet Ride / The Cardiff Kook

The sculpture began to attract pranksters who dressed the surfer in various attire, costumes, even with extended backdrops, which at times approached vandalism.The list of such pranks is extensive, often coordinated with current events.

City officials' reaction
While such pranks are officially discouraged, it is unofficially acknowledged that the sculpture's repeated costuming or vandalism is a boost to Cardiff's tourist trade.

Creativity in the public sphere is no longer the exclusive domain of cities and agencies. We have been fortunate to have many public art tacticians who have come forward and are effectively using public art to draw attention to a particular issues or events. The creativity of the players has been made possible, in part, by the dominance of social media as an audience engagement tool. This trend has helped fuel the realm of a diverse genre of art that have received acclaim.

MuMOK art, Vienna, Austria

After the MuseumsQuartier opened in June 2001, there was hardly any seating in the MQ courtyards except for a few wooden benches and no artistic use of the space either. As a result, the MuseumsQuartier Errichtungs- und Betriebsgesellschaft (MQ E+B) commissioned Austrian artist Josef Trattner to create an art installation for the site in the form of giant foam objects. They were immediately seized on by visitors and enthusiastically as seating. Based on the enormous success of this project, the MQ E+B  invited several teams of architects to design versatile seating for the MQ courtyards. The idea put forward by the architects PPAG – Anna Popelka and Georg Poduschka – was chosen and the MQ courtyard furniture made its first appearance in the MuseumsQuartier in winter 2002, assembled as igloos as part of the “Winter im MQ” program series. In 2003 the seating was put out for the first time in summer and was an immediate hit with visitors, who used it for relaxing on and spending time with friends. Since then it has become impossible to imagine the MuseumsQuartier without it.

Starting in 2003, the MQ seating has appeared in a wide range of colors.


People relaxing on modern benches in front of the MUMOK, Museum of Modern Art at the Museums Quartier. Top: 2016;   Left: 2018