What's the point of art if you can't cash in? Joining a list of locales across the country - including Richmond - Gloucester County recently announced it is "going crazy" about launching the "unforgettable experience" of "fun" public art. Prepare yourself for Gloucester's "Beehive Bonanza"! The idea, as similar ones have played out in Chicago, New York and Cincinnati, is that sponsors pay for big sculptures of animals or fanciful creatures or, in Gloucester's case, beehives. Artists decorate them. Event organizers put them all over the place. Then the completed statues are auctioned off, typically for a charitable cause. It's the perfect blend of art, feel-good commercialism and mass production. Richmond is doing the same thing with fish. Perhaps your own neighborhood association, bridge club or voting precinct could pull off such a fund-raiser, too. It's easy! Here are three secrets for success: 1. Fiberglass. Oil on canvas? Overdone. Pastels on paper? So passé. For these sculptures, the reinforcing composite known as fiberglass is a necessity. The material, which took off in the 1930s, has long been the basis for such products as insulation, boat hulls and those Big Boy restaurant mascots. Gloucester is turning to Harry Sindle of Ware Neck to produce its 5-foot fiberglass beehives. 2. Puns. To be truly successful, choose an animal of lower intelligence for your project. Then look for cute language that will attract the attention of tourists. Cincinnati used a rhyme: "The Big Pig Gig." Belfast, Maine, used a tongue-twister: "Belfast Bearfest." And don't get us started on the mooooovelous hilarity of New York's "Cow Parade" puns. Gloucester, for its part, is "abuzz" with its "honey" of an idea. 3. Vandals. There will be vandals, and you must prepare. New York fended off cow attackers. Scurrilous characters in Norfolk violated the city's mermaids. A wised-up Gloucester is taking precautions in its "Guidelines for Design." One of the county's instructions advises participants to "create and execute your design in order to withstand something like the possibility of a 200-pound man jumping on it." That should get you started. Now you just need to find someone to manufacture a giant fiberglass
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