Re: Tiptoeing timorously toward the figurative.
I live 45 miles north of Boston. This area is pretty conservative re: contemporary art, and so people feel more comfortable with figurative works, though things are slowly broadening. The MFA, which is far behind other major US cities in their openness to non-figurative sculpture has recently tried to make amends. If you drove by today, outside you'd see the bronze of the Indian chief on horseback (I wish I knew the title, sorry), which has been there for a long, long time; a giant DeKooning bronze abstract that looks like it's made of clay, an Anthony Caro stacked steel slabs piece, a highly painted and shiny figure of a guy walking across a pole that crosses over the driveway by the famous guy whose name escapes me (Brodsky?) and a Chinese scholar rock. Therefore, a something for everyone blend.
Here in my smaller neck of the woods, for the past six years a bunch of artists has organized a good show of site specific outdoor sculptures at a local state park. Everyone loves it and you never know what you'll get. The figurative sculputre downstairs from my sutdio used to put in figurative things, but lately she has been doing installations with sometimes a reference to something realistic. Soem others are abstract or installations that relate to concrete ideas, therefore figurative only in the sense that the concepts are graspable in a sort of obvious way. And there is a new little sculpture park in Newburyport where one of three there now is sort of figurative.
There are other regions that I would guess lean more toward figurative or abstract. For instance, San Francisco is much more innovative in their tastes than Boston. I saw Sarah Sze's work there first, in Boston later, e.g.
I think also, that the preferences are more era related than regional.