Saturday, April 19, 2008

Westdale Monument in Danger of Being Destroyed

This is frankly appalling. The Westdale Monument is a student-built mixed media sculpture at the corner of Goodwood and Jefferson, recognized by the Smithsonian as an important sculpture and the Baton Rouge School Board is desperate to have it destroyed, this time under the idea that the land its on needs to be used for a fire station. I don't know much about the judicious sprinkling of fire stations, but there is already one within half a mile from there on Government street.

The real reason, I will venture, for their need to destroy it is the stylized African figure on one corner of the sculpture. I don't want to think that's why, but its what I think.

I feel a futility in protesting because it seems that hard-headed bigots have nothing to gain in listening, but I'm going to do it anyway. Culture Candy has issued a call to action below for those of you that wish to get involved


CultureCandy is issuing a call to action to prevent the Baton Rouge School Board from destroying a 21-year-old piece of public art, The Westdale Monument. We are asking those supporters of CultureCandy to call or email the EBR School Board and ask for explanation of its decision. The EBR School Board has refused to sufficiently open discussion up to the public forum. They have essentially rejected the architect Coleman Brown's proposal that would allow the intended fire station and monument to co-exist on the same property. His submission was in the EBR School Board's hands two months before they responded. They have completely ignored the monument's listing on the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s inventory of American sculptures. Please view this link to learn more

William "Chip" Osborne has been following the status of the monument and brought the matter to CultureCandy's attention. Please read his review of the situation:

School Board Destroys Art

Culture emerges from community; and the various artworks and attitudes that comprise culture sustain and inform the very context in which they arise. Authentic art arises from authentic community, and this art in turn models authenticity to the community. Education is one of the more conspicuous of the means by which culture is communicated and sustained; it is certainly the most conspicuous guardian of a community's intellectual health, and in a healthy community, this intellectual well-being includes the arts and humanities.
And this is why citizens who recognize the central role of culture in a healthy community must take notice when its school board votes to destroy a public sculpture on the Smithsonian list of monuments, a sculpture built by its young people through the process of education, an artwork that has authentically arisen in the community through the very process of acculturate that community. This is more than deeply troubling. The system by which the Baton Rouge community is educated has chosen to authorize the destruction of one of the few public displays of arts in education in this town. This is pathological; this is an animal eating its own heart in an attempt at sustenance.

Thank you!
Your Friends at CultureCandy


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