Modern art and public art have a very nasty history. The Picasso in Chicago gets a pass, as that was paid for and gifted to Chicago by private investors. Like it or hate it, it is interesting. You react to it with more than just blank confusion. Oftentimes, when a piece of public art goes sour, the artistic community becomes a bunch of condescending pricks. Check out the controversy over Tilted Arc, where artists said the problem was the public wasn't smart enough to get and appreciate the minimalist work. Yup, me unedumacated. Me too dumb to know jeenyus. It was a slab of curved steel that disrupted a convenient walkway and had no presence aside from its size. Not buying it.
Denver International Airport was to get a new sculpture, something to counter the staid and bland public art at other airports. The piece was selected. It was originally supposed to be off the main road in a parking area, where visitors could examine it leisurely from all angles. 9/11 changed the plans, though. The parking area was abandoned, but work on the piece continued.
So, as of 2006, on the roadway approach to the airport terminal, you drive by the "Blue Mustang", a 9 000 lb., 32 foot tall cobalt blue fiberglass horse with electic glowing eyes (bonus points in the "EEEEEWWWWW" department -- it's anatomically correct). Looking like something a rider of the Apocalypse would ride (it killed its creator, artist Luis Jimenez, when a section of it broke off during construction and crushed him), it has stirred debate about what exactly to do with it. Policy is public art has to be in place for five years before it is moved, and people seem to be hoping that the confusion will die down by then.
Art is about communication. Sometimes, yes, the public doesn't get art. But that doesn't mean it's always so. Sometimes, it means the artist is not communicating his ideas clearly, like the guy who called a fish tank with a couple of basketballs in it "art". I don't know about you, but when I'm going to the airport to do something as intimidating as climbing in a steel cylinder to be hurtled at great speed and hieght across the landscape, I'm nervous enough. A public statue that looks like a lost prop from Metallica's "Enter Sandman" video isn't going to make me feel any better.