Friday, January 23, 2009

Attorneys and Art

At a recent City Commission meeting, City Attorney Brown submitted a draft proposal for establishing guidelines for acceptance of public art donations. He referenced a city hall installation a few months ago of a bronze sculpture fragment from Frederick Hart's"Ex Nihlio".This was a donation to the city. It was accepted and a private party was held upon it's unveiling. It has been years since a citizen or group has donated artwork to the city (The Lions, the flagpole, The Ponce statue etc) and the city attorney felt that there should be some guidelines for acceptance. Who would not agree with this?

The United States Supreme Court has on it's docket a case out of Utah where a religious group that operates from a pyramid wants to place what it calls the Seven Aphorisms in a city park, contending that the words are lesser-known instructions that Moses received from God. In this same park the city accepted a Ten Commandments monument from the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1971.

Now, the decision must be made,....... should we allow all faiths, creeds and philosophies access for monuments on public property? Should we remove earlier monuments that may have violated our church/state separation. I for one, resent the Confederate Monument in our Plaza. Soon (hopefully)we will have a civil rights monument offsetting the belief that slavery is a natural order.

The Supreme Court decision is important to the future of St.Augustine's possible Public Art donation guidelines. Hart's "Ex Nihilo" on the facade of Washington's National Cathedral, can be persuasively argued as a paean to biblical "Creationism". Some may now be looking for an artist to execute a bronze ape grooming himself next to the city hall koi pond,depending upon the Supreme Court decision.

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