No Bieber fever at Indianapolis International Airport
The Indianapolis International Airport is not catching Bieber Fever. In fact, a new temporary art installation inspired by pop star Justin Bieber has been cancelled.
"It will not be landing here at all," said Airport Executive Director Bob Duncan.
The airport agreed to pay Columbus native and artist Tre Reising $500 to do a site-specific piece for Concourse B. It would be displayed for three months as part of the airport's rotating art program.
Reising came up with a wall sculpture that consists of large, colorful letters spelling out #Belieb, which plays off the pop star's motto.
While Reising told us by phone that he's not necessarily a Bieber fan, "I don't listen to him on a regular basis, I think it's a good motto to believe. It think it's a good way to say 'keep your head up.'"
The artist thought it was a fun way for travelers to "take a picture of the artwork and hashtag and share it with digital media in the hopes it could become a meme."
The problem is, the teen idol has recently had a bad stretch of publicity. Among other things, he's been arrested for drag racing, DUI, resisting arrest and assault.
Duncan said the airport typically doesn't display art promoting one individual "celebrity or otherwise, but in this case we don't want to be seen as endorsing this particular celebrity's behavior, which we don't."
And especially troublesome are allegations that Bieber and his father were verbally abusive to a flight attendant while aboard a chartered flight and refused warnings from the pilot to stop smoking pot.
Ten-year-old Maya Osborn, headed to Florida with her mom and brother, said she's not a fan because "he sings too much like a girl."
But when it comes to the art, she sides with the airport.
"I don't think it's appropriate (to display the piece) because of the stuff going on," Maya said.
Nicole Jones, with her young granddaughter, said, "If it's supposed to be art, go and show it. I realize he's been in trouble lately, but I would show it."
But traveler Marcus Scott disagreed. "Why put it in a public place which is a family environment? Justin Bieber is causing problems and children look to him as an example? It doesn't match up."
Reising will get paid for the piece. While he looked forward to the exposure - an estimated 10,000 walk by the location every day - he said, "I'm kind of not surprised and I do sympathize with the airport's position. It's kind of sad, but they gotta do what they gotta do and I do, too."
Reising isn't sure what will become of his #belieb piece. He said it's currently in the back of his pick-up and headed to Brooklyn, NY where he now lives.
He said while it was designed for a public space he wouldn't be opposed to see it in a gallery.
Duncan stresses, the issue wasn't the artist, but the piece, which they didn't know the specifics on until it was ready to be installed.
Reising has agreed to do another piece for the airport. Asked what it might be, he said he wasn't sure. But said he will make his subject isn't anyone accused of "misbehaving."