Tuesday, October 21, 2003

City should be able to maintain Antares

Having read your well-balanced editorial of Oct. 14 [ "Redirect public art"] and Gregory Korte's two articles about the decision to bulldoze my public sculpture at Hyde Park, Double Star: Antares, I would like to address a few more points that pertain specifically to this work and some public comments regarding it.

It is disheartening that a city with a $2.2 million budget for capital arts spending could not have afforded a modest sum for yearly upkeep of Double Star (especially when Hyde Park's citizens had the foresight and interest to establish a $5,000 maintenance fund for it). Even without any repairs, this work, a visual landmark for the former "Mudhole" and a reminder of Cincinnati's illustrious Mount Lookout Observatory's historic importance, survived for 15 years, hopefully offering pleasure to some citizens and an opportunity for children to play within its "maze." How many performances supported by the city's arts and culture committee have had as lasting an impact?

If cost effectiveness is an issue, what are comparative per capita expenses for performances versus this and other public works of art?

With regard to replacement of Double Star, would a gazebo/bandstand be as distinctive and meaningful a landmark for the history of the location? Or would the city find a recognized artist of wide experience with public art to create a more appropriate work for this site for $100,000? And could the city maintain a fountain (water features are extremely costly to execute and maintain), when it did not manage to upkeep some "random brick walls"?

"International Sculpture City" seems to be an ironic title indeed for Cincinnati.

- Athena Tacha, Washington, D.C.

Editor's note: Tacha is professor of art emerita at Oberlin College.

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