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Monday, April 09, 2007

Statue of baseball-loving family unveiled outside Hadlock Field

What a wonderful tribute to the Dick Stuart family!

With snow still surrounding the stadium, the Portland Sea Dogs on Monday unveiled a 9 1/2-foot-tall bronze monument depicting a family of four heading to the ball park to enjoy America’s favorite pastime.

...Initially, the six-figure gift was met with a cold shoulder after artist Rhoda Sherbell’s preliminary model ran into opposition from members of the city’s public art committee.

The vice chairman of the committee declared that he was not enthused with designs featuring “white folks on pedestals.” Another committee member said Portland already had too many statues depicting “white, Anglo-Saxon people.” The committee also didn’t like the fact that the “family” wore clothing with the Portland Sea Dogs logo.

The committee voted against accepting the gift, based on photographs of a “maquette,” a small, preliminary clay design of Sherbell’s vision for the project. But the City Council ultimately voted unanimously to accept it.

Repoz Posted: April 09, 2007 at 07:58 PM | 58 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor leagues

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   1. Rich Rifkin I Posted: April 09, 2007 at 08:29 PM (#2330423)
The vice chairman of the committee declared that he was not enthused with designs featuring "white folks on pedestals." Another committee member said Portland already had too many statues depicting "white, Anglo-Saxon people."
I can't imagine a public official in a black-majority community ever saying, "We already have too many statues depicting 'black, African people.' We have a lot of Korean-American families who have invested in our community. Let's reject this statue design and put up a statue that depicts Asians, not more blacks."

For what it's worth, the people in this picture look more bronze to me than 'white.'
   2. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: April 09, 2007 at 08:40 PM (#2330437)
Well, I'm steering way clear of the issues, but boy do I love the phrase 'white folks on pedestals.'
   3. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: April 09, 2007 at 08:40 PM (#2330438)
Well, I'm steering way clear of the issues, but boy do I love the phrase 'white folks on pedestals.'
   4. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 09, 2007 at 08:48 PM (#2330444)
Utterly ludicrous. Are not white people a type of people that exist? If "diversity" is what they're after, does that not include white people?

And I'm sorry folks, but I've spent a lot of time in Portland, Maine, and I've been to several games at Hadlock Field. T'ain't no "diversity" to be seen. Of course, that's precisely why these self-hating pseudo-liberals are making such fools of themselves.
   5. kubiwan Posted: April 09, 2007 at 08:49 PM (#2330445)
A picture of it installed can be viewed here.

Is it just me, or does the father look like he is scalping the tickets?
   6. Rich Rifkin I Posted: April 09, 2007 at 08:55 PM (#2330450)
It's fortunate that the artist did not depict Native American fans. If she had, then accusing them of scalping would have caused a serious uproar -- and a meta-thread to boot.

FWIW, if someone told me that the woman and child in the statue were supposed African-Americans, I would have no reason to disbelieve them, based on this picture or the picture of the maquette.
   7. Rich Rifkin I Posted: April 09, 2007 at 08:56 PM (#2330451)
It's fortunate that the artist did not depict Native American fans. If she had, then accusing them of scalping would have caused a serious uproar -- and a meta-thread to boot.

FWIW, if someone told me that the woman and child in the statue were supposed to be African-Americans, I would have no reason to disbelieve them, based on this picture or the picture of the maquette.
   8. xbhaskarx Posted: April 09, 2007 at 09:01 PM (#2330456)
this is unacceptable. i will never go to a portland sea dogs game again!

if they're white, why do the wife and daughter have dreads? oh, because they're oregon hippies.
   9. Halofan Posted: April 09, 2007 at 09:12 PM (#2330464)
After 600 years of supporting realism, isn't it time for public art to be abstraction?
   10. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: April 09, 2007 at 09:14 PM (#2330468)
because they're oregon hippies.

Psst... it's Portland, Maine.
   11. Urban Faber Posted: April 09, 2007 at 09:16 PM (#2330470)
Is it just me, or does the father look like he is scalping the tickets?

Either that, or they're arguing over where the car is parked.
   12. Swedish Chef Posted: April 09, 2007 at 09:18 PM (#2330473)
I want to be on a public arts committee too, sounds like a cool gig.
   13. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 09, 2007 at 09:21 PM (#2330481)
To accurately reflect Maine's diversity, only 96.9% of the family should have been white.
   14. phredbird Posted: April 09, 2007 at 09:36 PM (#2330495)
it looks to me like they are having an embarassing dysfunctional family argument ... kid wants something from the souvenir stand, girl won't stop crying about how she's tired, dad fed up, waving to the beer guy or something.
   15. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: April 09, 2007 at 09:37 PM (#2330497)
The dad's arms look extremely long. Ape-like, if you will.
   16. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: April 09, 2007 at 10:01 PM (#2330526)
That just looks like a really bad sculpture in general. I had imagined a family of four holding hands, looking up at the stadium in wonder as they approach the park. Instead, as others have mentioned, it looks like the dad's selling the tickets, the boy's complaining about something, and the mom and girl are extremely disinterested.

I am not familiar with Portland Sea Dogs' history, but isn't there a player they could've memorialized instead? If I had the kind of money to be donating statues to minor league parks, I'd definitely pick my favorite player over a random family.
   17. McCoy Posted: April 09, 2007 at 10:35 PM (#2330559)
The dad looks like a Roman Centurion to me, the mom looks like a prostitute from AC, complete with kid and everything. $7 and two cigarettes will buy you a lot. . .
   18. Guapo Posted: April 09, 2007 at 10:40 PM (#2330565)
I am not familiar with Portland Sea Dogs' history, but isn't there a player they could've memorialized instead?

Dustin Pedroia, but you run the risk of pissing off the whole Second Commandment crowd.
   19. saltfarmer Posted: April 09, 2007 at 10:40 PM (#2330566)
"Phil Kessel Fan" is right: It's a bad statue. I actually live in Portland, Maine, and can tell you that regardless of what the local fishwrapper has reported, the issues raised by the public art committee were manifold and not ranked in importance: bad sculpture, statue placement, presence of logos, and diversity issues. This isn't public art, it's an advertisement masquerading as art. There is nothing wrong or "liberal" with a public art committee. Portland cares about how it looks, and a public art committee is a valuable and worthwhile entity. The Portland Press Herald slanted its coverage from the outset regarding this story to make it seem as though the committee was worried only about diversity. That coverage elicited a strong response from local readers/ baseball fans (similar in tone to the knee-jerks I've read here) and the city council caved in and ignored the public art committee's vote. Now we're stuck with an ugly statue on a city sidewalk promoting an independent business that has just blackmailed the city to make major renovations to the city-owned ballpark (opened in 1997), threatening that the Red Sox will not renew its affiliation if the city doesn't foot the bill. There's your tribute to the wonderful support the people of Portland have shown the Sea Dogs.
   20. Foster Posted: April 09, 2007 at 10:48 PM (#2330572)
It's a nice ballpark, a great city, and a crappy statue.

Saltfarmer, I am a Maine native and a former Portland resident... thanks for clearing all that up. I'd been cringing under the mistaken impression the controversy really was about a white people statue.

I try to get to a game there once a year. I broadcast college games at Hadlock, pre-Dogs, and it's great to see what the ballpark has become and how well the city supports the team.
   21. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 09, 2007 at 11:04 PM (#2330583)
Look, if the statue's being of white people was on their list at all, it was a dumb list and a dumb committee, at least in its consensus. Mind you, I've been on plenty of committees that were comprised almost entirely of smart, reasonable people, but were forced to add some stupid thing to a statement, or whatnot, because one zealot insisted. So I'm not necessarily insulting their whole committee, only its action. If they thought it was a bad statue, then they should have said that, fine. It is a pretty lousy statue. If they thought it was in the wrong place, if they didn't like its having logos on it, all fine. But the race thing is ridiculous, and they shouldn't have mentioned it at all, or even thought it.
   22. Rich Rifkin I Posted: April 09, 2007 at 11:29 PM (#2330604)
To accurately reflect Maine's diversity, only 96.9% of the family should have been white.
That's true, but Portland is only 91.3% white. I never realized that Portland, ME (the city that gave the world "Portland Cement") was the same size in population of my little small town, Davis, CA.
   23. Rich Rifkin I Posted: April 09, 2007 at 11:31 PM (#2330607)
Oops. Wikipedia says I was wrong about "portland cement":
Portland cement was developed from cements (or correctly hydraulic limes) made in Britain in the early part of the nineteenth century, and its name is derived from its similarity to Portland stone, a type of building stone that was quarried on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England. Joseph Aspdin, a British bricklayer, in 1824 was granted a patent for a process of making a cement which he called Portland cement.
   24. The George Sherrill Selection Posted: April 09, 2007 at 11:34 PM (#2330610)
Another committee member said Portland already had too many statues depicting “white, Anglo-Saxon people.”


So make them Italian-American. You could have all sorts of fun making a statue of the Sopranos attending a baseball game.
   25. saltfarmer Posted: April 09, 2007 at 11:56 PM (#2330627)
Diversity was part of the decision, because that is part of the committee's directive: [url=http://www.ci.portland.me.us/planning/pubartguidelines.pdf[/url]
The committee did its job. Whether or not you think the committee or its directive are "dumb" misses the point. This statue failed EVERY aspect of the guidelines the committee is set up to consider. Rather than take it as an affront to white people, take it as a committee doing the work it was asked to do. Yes, a committee member said Portland has too many statues depicting "white, Anglo-Saxon people," but the committee had a lot more to say about ALL OF THE OTHER ASPECTS they found fault with. It's in the public record, fer crissikes. I'm sorry, but this isn't a white people vs diversity issue or baseball against anti-baseball liberals. Public art is a little more big picture than that, and as a citizen of the city in question I appreciate the work they do.
   26. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 09, 2007 at 11:59 PM (#2330632)
Another committee member said Portland already had too many statues depicting “white, Anglo-Saxon people.”

Really, that offends me. It is racism against white people, and I'm a white person. Sadly, there are many who think that the statement I just made is racist against everyone else, and that white people have no right to be offended by anything.
   27. Flynn Posted: April 10, 2007 at 12:18 AM (#2330646)
Hysterical but true: The guy who made the complaint that Portland has too many statues of white, Anglo-Saxon people is named Jay York.
   28. Swedish Chef Posted: April 10, 2007 at 12:22 AM (#2330651)
Public art is a little more big picture than that, and as a citizen of the city in question I appreciate the work they do.

I do wonder a bit about this. Can any creative vision exist in art that is vetted by a committee following manifold directives?

Or can it only be neutered trash useful as income for the artist?
   29. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 10, 2007 at 12:31 AM (#2330660)
Diversity includes white people. A statue of white people is in no way an affront to diversity. So the committee even misinterpreted that part of its job. And yes, so do almost all other Americans with whom I would agree on much of anything at all. Pseudo-liberals. There are precious few real ones left.
   30. saltfarmer Posted: April 10, 2007 at 01:08 AM (#2330705)
"Can any creative vision exist in art that is vetted by a committee following manifold directives?"

Good question, but since tax dollars are involved, most cities have chosen to go down this path. I wish other government entities were subject to the scrutiny Portland, Maine's public art committee is receiving on this comment thread. Like the Portland City Council, for example.

Obviously everybody here loves baseball, but what if the proposed statue was presented by a dairy and the statue in question involved the inclusion of the company's logo on a cow and the statue was meant to promote the business? Get off the diversity aspect and look at the issue in its entirety. That's what the committee did. The narrowmindedness of these comments is as frustrating as the newspaper reports on the issue. A chocolate statue of Jesus is deemed offensive by some Christians, so it blocked from being shown in a private building, even though no tax money is involved. But a committee of level-headed arts professionals--who are appointed to consider appropriateness of taxpayer-supported artwork--rules against a statue that fails to meet a single criteria of the city's public arts policy, so the very city council that appointed said committee gives in to knee-jerk baseball fans and approves spending my tax dollars on the permanent installation of a self-promoting eyesore. That's offensive.
   31. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 10, 2007 at 03:31 AM (#2330811)
Oops. Wikipedia says I was wrong about "portland cement":

According to Wikipedia:
McCourt bought the Los Angeles Dodgers for $999,000,000.57 from NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch's flagship enterprise.

That's more than half a billion more than NewCorp told the public.
   32. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 10, 2007 at 04:14 AM (#2330840)
But a committee of level-headed arts professionals--who are appointed to consider appropriateness of taxpayer-supported artwork--rules against a statue that fails to meet a single criteria of the city's public arts policy, so the very city council that appointed said committee gives in to knee-jerk baseball fans and approves spending my tax dollars on the permanent installation of a self-promoting eyesore. That's offensive.

Plenty of awful art has been foisted upon the public by committees of "level-headed arts professionals". A baseball-themed statue outside a baseball park hardly seems like the most offensive display, even if it was endorsed by the elected representatives of the people instead of a group of self-dealing elitists. And why should the committee of level-headed arts professionals get a pass because racism was only 1 of their reasons?
   33. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 10, 2007 at 04:29 AM (#2330852)
A chocolate statue of Jesus is deemed offensive by some Christians, so it blocked from being shown in a private building, even though no tax money is involved.


Well, the private building was the one that decided to call off the show, so the fact no taxpayer dollars were employed is irrelevant in that case.
   34. saltfarmer Posted: April 10, 2007 at 05:07 AM (#2330880)
Racism was not one of their reasons. Diversity is one of the considerations they have been charged with evaluating when presented with an application for a public installation of art. I think diversity issues are valid in a city that is 96% white, but why is it the only consideration people on this board--none of whom live in Portland--are obsessed with? I'm not opposed to baseball art depicting white people. I live in Portland and have only tried to provide background on the issue of the statue that takes into account ALL of the reasons for the public art committtee's vote against the statue. Not one person has commented on the other reasons given for not accepting the statue. The point is that it's not art, it's signage. It's too bad the Boston Globe, Portland Press Herald, and so many of you would rather focus on the word "diversity." What are you afraid of? Did MLB's Civil Rights game elicit this response here, too?

BTW, I agree that the choco-Jesus remark was irrelevant to this discussion.
   35. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 10, 2007 at 05:42 AM (#2330889)
There are already some very good white person baseball statues. Jason Giambi playing defense, for example.
   36. The George Sherrill Selection Posted: April 10, 2007 at 06:22 AM (#2330895)
Does anyone here even think that the artist understood baseball, in the sense of the game's history, traditions and atmosphere?
   37. Flynn Posted: April 10, 2007 at 06:59 AM (#2330899)
There are already some very good white person baseball statues. Jason Giambi playing defense, for example.

Well played.
   38. Obo Posted: April 10, 2007 at 07:10 AM (#2330900)
Can any creative vision exist in art that is vetted by a committee following manifold directives?


Of course. Art, especially commissioned art, has always had to deal with outside interference.
   39. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 10, 2007 at 07:37 AM (#2330906)
I think people miss the point about Saltfarmer's post. That's a twenty-nine page set of regulations for putting up statues. How anybody can read a piece of crap like that -- yes, I read the whole thing -- and not be a libertarian is beyond me. As for the feeble attempt at arguing that the commission was doing its job by considering diversity:

1) Contrary to Saltfarmer's claim, nothing requires them to evaluate art based on racial quotas. (*)

2) Even if it did, nothing requires them to make absurd comments about "white Anglo-Saxons" or "white folks on pedastals." Clearly, people who say things like that aren't merely checking off boxes on an evaluation form; they've drunk the kool aid.


(*) Assuming (as the Globe article implies) that the team rather than the city paid for the statute, the criteria they're supposed to use to evaluate this art are in section II.C. of the regulations. Nothing in there mentions the race of the figures in the artwork. The only one they arguably got right was "commercial advertising."


Does anyone here even think that the artist understood baseball, in the sense of the game's history, traditions and atmosphere?
I have to agree that aesthetically it seems like a bad statue. But the article claims: "Sherbell, whose works are on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y...." That at least implies she does.
   40. saltfarmer Posted: April 10, 2007 at 12:26 PM (#2330941)
"Contrary to Saltfarmer's claim, nothing requires them to evaluate art based on racial quotas."

What? When did I say anything about racial quotas? I'm glad you took the time to read pdf I linked to, but your post is rather ingenuous. Not only did I never say a word about racial quotas, the 29-page document pertains to much more than "regulations for putting up statues." Perhaps you were too busy counting pages to read page one:

from IA:

Public art should not be seen as a mere adornment of buildings or spaces; rather, the art should be
seen as an amenity for diverse [emphasis mine] groups of citizens. The emphasis is on the people who use the
facilities – on improvement as enrichment of public life. The goal of the Portland Public Art
Program is to respond to the City’s diverse communities
[emphasis mine]. Artworks that are added to the collection
should be created in active response to the character and history of their particular places.

For what it's worth, "diversity" is about much more than race, though apparently not on this board. I'm sorry that directly quoting my posts won't help your argument, but that's no reason to twist what I've written to support the narrowminded and xenophobic tenor of the majority of comments on this issue.

True, nothing requires committee members to make absurd comments, but nothing prohibits them from saying whatever the hell they want. Last I checked the First Amendment was still in place.

Yes, the committee "arguably got right [the criteria regarding] 'commercial advertising.'" THAT IS MY POINT. THAT'S ALL THEY NEEDED TO REJECT THE STATUE. Whether you think it involved "drinking the kool aid" or not, the public art committee did its job, the city council failed the citezenry of Portland, and we're stuck with a bad statue whose "message" is as dubious as the comments defending it on this board.
   41. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: April 10, 2007 at 12:53 PM (#2330948)
boy do I love the phrase 'white folks on pedestals.'

Me, too.
   42. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 10, 2007 at 01:28 PM (#2330975)
True, nothing requires committee members to make absurd comments, but nothing prohibits them from saying whatever the hell they want. Last I checked the First Amendment was still in place.

It's not a 1st Amendment issue when officials use governmental power to impose racial quotas on artists or statues. The committee members aren't being criticized for their personal views, but rather that they used their delegated powers to impose a racial litmus test on public art. Just calling it "diversity" doesn't make it legal or good public policy.

As for the "commercial advertising" issue of having the Sea Dogs logo displayed on the clothing depicted, that hardly seems like a big deal. It gives an authentic local flavor to the project. If the committee criteria prohibits such "advertsing" in every case, I think they did a poor drafting job. What next, removing the military insignia on statues of soldiers and sailors so as to not give recruiters an advantage?
   43. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: April 10, 2007 at 01:50 PM (#2330996)
I live in Portland and work 2 blocks away from Hadlock. It's a lovely little minor league park.

This whole controversy is idiotic. The statue looks horrible, but IMHO it's harmless overall. It's certainly no more tasteless than the 10 foot tall statue of Slugger the Seadog also displayed outside the stadium.
   44. saltfarmer Posted: April 10, 2007 at 01:52 PM (#2330997)
Please point out where anybody imposed a racial quota.

Of course the 1st Amendment applies to comments made by a governmentally appointed committee member when commenting to the press. Just because you don't like what he said, doesn't mean it's an abuse of government power. I don't like the BS that comes out of most government figures, but I'd never suggest their position overrides their right to speak their minds.

The "litmus test" for considering public art applications was was imposed upon the committee by the city council--which is my point: the city council dropped the ball here, not the public art committee.

"If the committee criteria prohibits such "advertsing" in every case, I think they did a poor drafting job."

Again, the committee didn't legislate the regulations they've been asked to consider, the city council did.

"As for the "commercial advertising" issue of having the Sea Dogs logo displayed on the clothing depicted, that hardly seems like a big deal."

In your opinion. But it's part of the criteria the committee has been charged with considering, so personal opinions--yours or others'--isn't germaine to the discussion at hand.

"What next, removing military insignia..."

Give me a break. Again, the argument is twisted, inverted, and misquoted, with an absurd "if this, then" conclusion thrown in for good measure. Your square peg will not fit in the round hole, people.
   45. saltfarmer Posted: April 10, 2007 at 01:58 PM (#2331002)
" It's certainly no more tasteless than the 10 foot tall statue of Slugger the Seadog also displayed outside the stadium."

Except that taxpayer dollars were wasted in paying for the installation of it, and taxpayer dollars are responsible for its upkeep. Other than that, Smiling Joe, you're absolutely right: it is identical in nature to the advertising "sculpture" of a 10-foot fiberglass SeaDog that is actually, and correctly, classified as signage.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:03 PM (#2331005)
For what it's worth, the people in this picture look more bronze to me than 'white.'

And that looks like a pretty nappy-headed cracker baby to me.

How anybody can read a piece of crap like that -- yes, I read the whole thing -- and not be a libertarian is beyond me.

The counterpoint here is that even blind squirrels occasionally stumble across an acorn, but it's true: The entire 29 pages is like a parodist's dream---a parodist armed with a fistful of amphetamines to keep himself from dozing off under the power of his own words. I just signed an incredibly complicated, multi-layered licensing deal with a company that will be distributing my college football posters, a deal with a built-in year's time lag before payments start coming in, but this Portland document makes my agreement look like a handshake bet between two lifelong friends with a six pack of beer as the stake. It reads like one of those documents produced by Hillary Clinton in one of her "I'm energized by meetings" moments.
   47. JoeHova Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:06 PM (#2331008)
That is not a good-looking statue. It's a shame that that is the best design that they could come up with, and it's also a shame that someone decided to give that statue an award.
   48. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:13 PM (#2331015)
Except that taxpayer dollars were wasted in paying for the installation of it, and taxpayer dollars are responsible for its upkeep. Other than that, Smiling Joe, you're absolutely right: it is identical in nature to the advertising "sculpture" of a 10-foot fiberglass SeaDog that is actually, and correctly, classified as signage.

I said it was just no more tasteless than Slugger, the Fiberglass Monstrosity. Taxpayer dollars had nothinig to do with it. In fact, wasn't the statue donated? It's listed as a "gift."

I don't understand the "advertising" aspect of this issue. It's advertising because the family depicted was wearing Sea Dogs gear? Given that the statue is about 30 feet from the Sea Dogs' stadium, I fail to see much of a problem.

This strikes me as an issue where bureaucratic regulations and political grandstanding have overcome basic common sense.
   49. saltfarmer Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:33 PM (#2331036)
"Taxpayer dollars had nothinig to do with it."

Tax dollars didn't pay for the sculpture itself, but they were used for the installation of the statue and they will be used for the future upkeep of the statue. At a time when education, libraries, and public safety are hit with budget cuts, to pay for this is wrong. Bottom line: it did not meet the standards for public art, period.

"I don't understand the "advertising" aspect of this issue. It's advertising because the family depicted was wearing Sea Dogs gear? Given that the statue is about 30 feet from the Sea Dogs' stadium, I fail to see much of a problem."

Yes, because logos are used, it violates the city's criteria for public art, and is instead advertising. I didn't write the criteria, the city council did. If the SeaDogs hadn't applied for the statue to be considered public art, they [the Sea Dogs] would not have been allowed to put it on the sidewalk outside of Hadlock. Hadlock is a city-owned facility, surrounded by city sidewalks. The SeaDogs are a private business leasing the property. They already had their maximum amount of signage (including Slugger the fiberglass monstrosity), per the zoning laws of the neighborhood. That is common sense.
   50. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 10, 2007 at 05:01 PM (#2331140)
Of course the 1st Amendment applies to comments made by a governmentally appointed committee member when commenting to the press. Just because you don't like what he said, doesn't mean it's an abuse of government power.

That's not correct - at least in the sense of providing any legal justification for the committee's decision, which was the original point. The 1st Amendment generally doesn't provide any additional basis for governmental decision making. A zoning board can't deny a variance because they don't agree with a property owner's views on the Iraq War. The board members may have a 1st Amendment right to say whatever they want about Iraq, but that wouldn't justify their decision making. Same here, the committee can't justify using racial criteria in its decision making just because as private citizens or government officials they happen to have certain opinions on racial issues.
   51. Hack Wilson Posted: April 10, 2007 at 05:32 PM (#2331178)
This brings back fond memories of Chicago in the 60s.
I call it Picasso's fiasco, a rising heap of rusting iron," said Alderman John Hoellen when Pablo Picasso presented his five-story metal sculpture to the city of Chicago in 1967. Hoellen introduced a resolution in city council rejecting the gift and proposing for its place in front of the civic center a five-story statue of Ernie Banks as "a living symbol of a vibrant city.

At the same time Hoellen was doing everything he could to keep blacks from moving into his all-white ward.

I'm not sure I ever want to see a 5-story statue of any ballplayer.
   52. saltfarmer Posted: April 10, 2007 at 06:28 PM (#2331249)
Yankee Clapper,
Did you read the article? Did you read the guidelines the art committee has to work with? The comments that were printed in the Globe article are in no way "providing legal justification for the committee's decision." The quote isn't even given context by the reporter:

The vice chairman of the committee declared that he was not enthused with designs featuring "white folks on pedestals."
Another committee member said Portland already had too many statues depicting "white, Anglo-Saxon people."
The committee also didn't like the fact that the "family" wore clothing with the Portland Sea Dogs logo.


The reporter simply cherry-picked quotes for effect. The quoted words are expressions of opinion, not legal justifications of a legal decision. The justifications for the decision, as I've stated several times now, were manifold and are a matter of public record. The committee obviously didn't have the power to do anything other than provide the city council with a recommendation, which the council ignored. That is the issue. That is my point. The committee serves an advisory role. They can say whatever the hell they want within the rubric of their charge. They are allowed to express opinions during deliberations. In fact, that's exactly what they have been asked to do when it comes to evaluating public art. And, I'm sorry, but racial criteria falls within the issues of diversity the city council has asked them to consider in making their recommendations.
   53. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 10, 2007 at 06:46 PM (#2331270)
Well, I would refuse to serve on a racist committee.
   54. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 10, 2007 at 08:20 PM (#2331377)
Perhaps you were too busy counting pages to read page one:

from IA:

Public art should not be seen as a mere adornment of buildings or spaces; rather, the art should be seen as an amenity for diverse [emphasis mine] groups of citizens. The emphasis is on the people who use the facilities – on improvement as enrichment of public life. The goal of the Portland Public Art Program is to respond to the City’s diverse communities [emphasismine]. Artworks that are added to the collection should be created in active response to the character and history of their particular places.
No, I read it. First, you're quoting precatory language, not the actual guidelines they're supposed to use when evaluating the work.

Second, nothing in there says anything about the race of the people in the statues. Why is a statue of white people -- sorry, white Anglo-Saxon people -- not "an amenity for diverse groups of citizens"? Why doesn't a statue of white people "respond to the City's diverse communities"? WTF does "respond to the city's diverse communities" <u>mean</u>? Nothing at all.

(And Portland doesn't have "diverse [racial] communities" anyway; it's over 90% white. You can claim that "'diversity' is about much more than race," but you'd be disingenuous to do so in this context, since it's clear that the committee was looking at race. Besides, what does it mean in the context of a statue? Can one depict political philosophies in a statue? Perhaps show one of them being vegan?)

Yes, the committee "arguably got right [the criteria regarding] 'commercial advertising.'" THAT IS MY POINT. THAT'S ALL THEY NEEDED TO REJECT THE STATUE.
Granted... if what we're talking about is looking for an excuse for them to reject it, that's all they "needed." On the other hand, I don't think most people view sports team clothing as mere "commercial advertising," as opposed to an expression of fandom. Especially given that the statue is at the ballpark. It's not like it had the ticket office phone number on the statue. So that would seem more pretextual than legitimate reasoning.
   55. saltfarmer Posted: April 10, 2007 at 08:45 PM (#2331409)
Precatory or not, that language is the guiding principle of the committee.

DIversity has nothing to do with percentages.

I'm done re-wording my statements here. If you are so concerned about defending the decision of the city council to ignore their own committee's recommendation, at least read the minutes of the meetings to learn what was said regarding all criteria considered. Read my comments since the beginning of this thread. My points have been twisted and misquoted, but never addressed in a reasonable way. I'm going to go watch some baseball.
   56. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 11, 2007 at 06:22 AM (#2332026)
The quoted words are expressions of opinion, not legal justifications of a legal decision. . . . The committee serves an advisory role. They can say whatever the hell they want within the rubric of their charge. They are allowed to express opinions during deliberations.

Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Even if acting only in an advisory role, the committee was a governmental actor when making its recommendation. A "too many whites" or too many of any race justification for not selecting an artist or displaying a work of art is constitutionally suspect. Governmental units don't win too many cases when their decision makers offer unconstitutional justifications for the decision being challenged. Perhaps that's one reason the city council unanimously rejected the committee's recommendation.
   57. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 11, 2007 at 09:01 AM (#2332043)
A "too many whites" or too many of any race justification for not selecting an artist or displaying a work of art is constitutionally suspect.
Well, I've criticized the committee and saltfarmer's ridiculous justifications, but I do have to contradict you here. Statues do not have constitutional rights; there's no Equal Protection Clause for artwork. Generally speaking, a policy decision made that there were too many white people in some particular context would of course be unconstitutional. But too many white statues is just idiocy, not a constitutional violation.
   58. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 11, 2007 at 04:41 PM (#2332269)
Not suggesting that statues have constitutional rights, but it's not really a stretch to suggest that a governmental unit applying a racial test to artwork sanctioned for public display would be found to have discriminated against the people who claimed to be harmed by such a policy. Maybe not black letter law, but IMHO it has a much better chance of prevailing than a claim that government can overtly ban or limit art on a racial basis.

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