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1999 Martin Abridged

1999 Martin Abridged - JAN RANDOLPH MARTIN v CITY OF...

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1 JAN RANDOLPH MARTIN v. CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS 192 F.3d 608 (7 th Cir. 1999) Harlington Wood, Jr., Circuit Judge . We are not art critics, do not pretend to be and do not need to be to decide this case. A large outdoor stainless steel sculpture by plaintiff Jan Martin, an artist, was demolished by the defendant as part of an urban renewal project. Plaintiff brought a one-count suit against the City of Indianapo- lis (the "City") under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 ("VARA"), 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court granted plaintiff's motion and awarded plaintiff statutory damages in the maximum amount allowed for a non-wilful statutory vio- lation. Martin v. City of Indianapolis, 982 F. Supp. 625 (S.D. Ind. 1997) , and Martin v. City of In- dianapolis, 4 F. Supp. 2d 808 (S.D. Ind. 1998). Neither party is satisfied. It is necessary to see how this unique controversy came to be. I. BACKGROUND Plaintiff is an artist, but in this instance more with a welding torch than with a brush. He offered evidence to show, not all of it admitted, that his works have been displayed in museums, and other works created for private commissions, including a time capsule for the Indianapolis Museum of Art Centennial. He has also done sculptured jewelry for the Indiana Arts Commission. In 1979, at the Annual Hoosier Salem Art Show, plaintiff was awarded the prize for best of show in any me- dium. He holds various arts degrees from Purdue University, the Art Institute of Chicago and Bowl- ing Green State University in Ohio. Plaintiff had been employed as production coordinator for Tar- penning-LaFollette Co. (the "Company"), a metal contracting firm in Indianapolis. It was in this po- sition that he turned his artistic talents to metal sculpture fabrication. In 1984, plaintiff received permission from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Development Com- mission to erect a twenty-by-forty-foot metal sculpture on land owned by John LaFollette, chairman of the Company. The Company also agreed to furnish the materials. The resulting Project Agree- ment between the City and the Company granted a zoning variance to permit the erection of plain- tiff's proposed sculpture. An attachment to that agreement and the center of this controversy pro- vided as follows: Should a determination be made by the Department of Metropolitan Development that the subject sculpture is no longer compatible with the existing land use or that the acquisition of the property is necessary, the owner of the land and the owner of the sculpture will receive written notice signed by the Director of the Department of Met- ropolitan Development giving the owners of the land and sculpture ninety (90) days to remove said sculpture. Subject to weather and ground conditions. [*611] Plaintiff went to work on the project and in a little over two years it was completed. He named it "Symphony # 1," but as it turns out in view of this controversy, a more suitable musical name might have been "1812 Overture." Because of the possibility that the sculpture might some-
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