In October 2008, SFR reported on Martin Horowitz' “Grenade.” In the first five months after the grenade was installed outside LDCA in 2004, it was thrice attacked. After being spray painted like a tic-tac-toe board, vandalized (the pin was pulled out) and tipped over, it was moved to the less-noticeable spot outside Goldleaf Framemakers, Horowitz' nationally-renowned framing business on West Alameda. Then, just before the 2008 election, the giant goldleafed grenade was reinstated on its pedestal outside LDCA. The powers that be at the gallery were suspecting that an attempt to vandalize the grenade may occur again, and they kept their eyes peeled.
It took a few months, but their expectations came true – but not in the way they'd perhaps suspected. Sometime between 5 pm on Friday, March 13 and 10 am Saturday, March 14, an anonymous person perched two white doves on top of the controversial implement of destruction.
SFR got on the phone with artist Horowitz, who is known for using the ancient and difficult method of water-gilding to give genuine bombs, AK-47s and hand grenades a beautiful golden coat. The previous vandalisms of the $80,000 grenade had pissed him off, but his attitude was considerably sunnier this time around.
“I think they're cool!” he says of the doves. “I've had so many different things happen to that grenade – it's been mauled, it's been knocked down, dragged out, it's been spray painted – and now it's got two doves. Isn't that wonderful?”
(Above is documentation of the grenade's tipsy moment in 2004; Horowitz had to re-leaf the half of the grenade that was damaged in the fall.)
The radical shift in attitude of both Horowitz and the gallery staff has mostly to do with the method by which the “vandals” altered the grenade this time around. Previously, damage was done to the piece, which resulted in Horowitz needing to re-gold leaf the piece, and that's not cheap. This time, however, the little birds are held on simply by magnets. The wind blows them out of place on occasion, but their little magnetized feet don't cause any damage to the brilliant gold coat.
Horowitz has previously chosen to stay mute on the subject of the grenade and what, exactly, he means when he uses a difficult (not to mention expensive) gliding process to decorate actual weapons. Some enraged members of the public thought the piece was scary and glorifying war; others thought it was perhaps playing down the fact that a grenade is serious business, trivializing death and destruction.
Horowitz has neither confirmed nor denied any of these ideas. Once the doves came down to roost, however, he finally sounded off on his true feelings for the grenade: “The true heart of gold shines through. There's a quote for ya.”
SFR wrote in October: "While not everyone in Santa Fe is happy about the golden grenade's return, the role of the artist is to make the viewer think. Horowitz, in that regard, has certainly done his job. And while Horowitz insists on remaining mute about the piece's meaning, he does say one thing: 'Who in their right mind would blow up a golden grenade?'
"The grenade, then, could be seen as a sign of peace. It will never explode. It's beautiful. The piece has taken a horrible, destructive thing and turned it into a source of beauty."
The doves perched charmingly next to the pin, perhaps, just serve to bring this belief to the forefront. With the addition of the little birds of peace, it's easier to see how pretty the gold is, as opposed to how scary the grenade is.
Ironically – or perhaps fittingly – Linda Durham herself was on a peace mission to Gaza during the time the doves were placed on the grenade. She returned to Santa Fe on March 16.