You know how it is—you have a Giant Bra Ball in your garage and don’t know what to do with it. You haven’t been able to park your car inside for years. It’s time to get serious about finding it another home. But where?
This particular Giant Bra Ball was made by San Francisco Bay artist Ron Nicolino in the late 1990’s. He intended it as a whimsical way to bring awareness to the serious issue of breast cancer. When it wasn’t displayed on a flatbed trailer parked outside of the Pier 23 Café in San Francisco, he hauled it behind his pink Cadillac up and down the California coast. In July 2001, it was featured in Mendocino’s Fourth of July parade.
You might think such a ball is unique, but it isn’t. During this same period, another was constructed by San Francisco artist Emily Duffy, thus igniting the infamous Giant Bra Ball War.
It all began after Nicolino was denied his vision of “Bras Across the Grand Canyon.” He searched the artistic community for anyone who might make use of his collection of donated bras. Duffy answered the call. They attempted to collaborate on an artistic piece, but were unable to agree about who should get credit for the original Giant Bra Ball idea. Nicolino ended up keeping his bras and started rolling them while Duffy sent out a plea for donated bras and began rolling her own. Except through their lawyers, they never spoke again.
Duffy’s ball is part of the permanent collection at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
But where is Nicolino’s? My July 2014 blog post “A Ballsy Idea” attempted to find the answer.
Nearly eight months later, I received a cryptic electronic message from Nicolino’s daughter Ruby: “I know where it is.”
A tickle ran up my spine. Through email exchanges, Ruby told me that Nicolino took the Giant Bra Ball with him when he moved to Washington State in 2002. After he passed away in 2009, it was transported to a secret location in California.
If Nicolino’s Giant Bra Ball isn’t in your garage (it actually could be in mine—hiding behind a mountain of other stuff), I imagine it somewhere dark and lonely, checked on occasionally by family and friends. Wouldn’t it be great if it could once again see the light of day?
Ruby would love to see it installed in an art gallery or institution for breast cancer awareness. She also suggested that it might be auctioned off on eBay with the proceeds going to charity.
Ruby mentioned Burning Man and this got me thinking. Perhaps the organizers could plop the Giant Bra Ball down in the middle of the event. As they unroll it, they could distribute bras like party favors to people (who I understand are otherwise naked). At the very end, everyone would rip off their bras and toss them on top of a bonfire. Nicolino’s creation would go out in a blaze of glory.
All this thinking has given me a bit of indigestion, but here’s another idea:
Why don’t we buy it? By “we,” I mean Fort Bragg or Mendocino. It’s just the type of quirky, yet socially relevant art that our community embraces. I visualize it attracting attention in a number of locations.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for this Giant Bra Ball. I really do want to start parking my car in the garage.
(Thanks a bunch to super talented and all around great guy Tony Arguelles for the Photo Shop magic.) (And for the photo of the Savings Bank of Mendocino.)