Poet’s Walk: The Public Abandons Philosophy and Pigeons Acquire Philosophy

David Gilhooly, Robert Mezey

735 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017

David Gilhooly

The Public Abandons Philosophy, 1990

Based on the poetry of Robert Mezey


Pigeons Acquire Philosophy, 1990

Based on the poetry of Robert Mezey


The Public Abandons Philosophy and Pigeons Acquire Philosophy are a pair of two sculptures created by David Gilhooly in collaboration with poet Robert Mezey. The two works are among the cities smallest public artworks and are meant to reference marginalized spaces and characters  in the city. The bronze sculptures sit on the perimeter of the grassy knoll on the upper plaza of FIGat7th retail center.

The Public Abandons Philosophy depicts two half eaten sandwiches and a slice of pizza on a small stack of newspapers. These items are representative of human presence in the area and often what cleaning crews try to immediately remove. Pigeons Acquire Philosophy depicts three pigeons situated on or near a newspaper stack topped by a fried egg. Pigeons are regarded as a nuisance and are emblematic of the dirty side of the city. Both sculptures provide a subtle jab to the corporate culture housed in surrounding commercial high rises and the detritus that is commonly left behind and cultivated by that culture.

The poetry by Robert Mezey is incorporated directly into the surface of the sculptures, reading:

The Public Abandons Philosophy
Bargains, odds and ends for sale –
Double breasted suit of mail
Half a sandwich, slightly stale.
Unused crucifixion nail.
Hard rain to fall on the U.S.A.
Shortly, headless farmers say
Man and woman
Beast and human
All too common

Pigeons Acquire Philosophy
All time’s production must
Wither soon and turn to dust
Art appears the one exception –
Seers and scientists nonplused.
Maybe legal, hardly tender,
Mutters one repeat of tender
Let there be light
But not too much
We do our best
Work in the dark

American artist David Gilhooly (1943–2013) enrolled in his first ceramics class at the University of Davis, California, in 1962. There Gilhooly formed allegiance with other students, beginning what would later become known as The Funk Ceramic Movement of the San Francisco Bay Area. Inspired by Abstract Expressionism and the sculptures of Claes Oldenburg, Gilhooly produced sculptures with comical subject matter including food, animals, plants, and a series centered on frogs.