District Digest: Free public support for the arts (when it suits you)
We don’t like Ike’s memorial
At a Tuesday Congressional hearing on the planned Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, it quickly became clear that congressmen hate the chosen design. So unsightly is the design, say some congressmen, that the entire design should be scrapped and the project restarted with another design contest. “I want to know how we came up with this monstrosity,” said Representative Tom McClintock (R-Calif).
Renowned architect Frank Gehry, known best for his museum renovations, won the design competition for the Eisenhower memorial in 2010. The memorial was originally intended to be built during 2012, but complaints about Gehry’s design delayed the project.
In particular, members of Eisenhower’s family felt that Gehry’s original focus on Eisenhower’s childhood and Kansas upbringing would undermine his important accomplishments. Even now, after Gehry updated his portrayal of Eisenhower, the family takes issue for it being “too extravagant.”
“Continuation of the status quo … will doom the prospect of building a memorial,” said Susan Eisenhower, the president’s granddaughter, according to ABC News. “It is time to go back to the drawing board, with an open process for the redesign of the memorial.”
Representative Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has introduced legislation towards just such an end. If passed, the bill will begin a new design competition for the memorial and eliminate the remaining $100 million of funding for Gehry’s project.
Gehry isn’t in the fight alone, however. The American Institute of Architects “vigorously opposes” the legislation, on the grounds that Congressional censorship of artwork like this is wrong. “Representative Bishop’s legislation allows Congress to exercise governmental authority in a wholly arbitrary manner that negates the stated selection process,” said the association’s CEO, Robert Ivy. “It is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the innovative thinking for which our profession is recognized at home and around the globe.”
Muralists educate kids on the streets
The mantle of D.C.’s rich history of street murals is borne by Albus Cavus, a group of young street artists. The muralists are using their artwork as an opportunity to bring the city’s children closer to the arts.
In a profile with Urban Turf, Albus Cavus’ leaders laid out the meaning of their work. “The more interesting aspect is how it can influence the social fabric,” said Peter Krsko, the group’s director. “The residents who live around the public space where the particular work of art is being installed, maybe they never met each other and they don’t pay attention to the street they walk on. Then, they get an invitation to be a part of painting something on a wall.”
Krsko identified “From Edgewood to the Edge of the World,” near Rhode Island Avenue and 4th Street, as Albus Cavus’ most recognizable and visible mural. 6 artists and 45 children composed the mural, over the course of 3 months of 2009.
Children are not the only ones who get to work with Albus Cavus. The artists’ next mural, which went up in Takoma Park on Monday, was made by prisoners in a local correctional facility. “We go to jails and detention centers, and we try to teach them about the place where they live,” said Krsko. “When you live in a place and you really appreciate the history, the nature or the cultural heritage, you have a completely different relationship to the place then when you just ignore it.”
Obama celebrates St. Paddy’s with Irish Prime Minister
While many Georgetown students likely displayed their Irish pride on Sunday with day drinking and a blackout trip to Wisey’s, President Obama waited until yesterday to drink Guinness and wear green.
Obama received the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kerry, as well as Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, the Catholic and Protestant leaders of the unity government in Northern Ireland, respectively.
Several American politicians, most notably John Boehner, also attended, prompting Obama to comment on the ease of attaining bipartisanship when beer and bagpipes are involved. “We spend the whole year trying to bring this town together, and these [Irish] leaders are able to do it in a single afternoon,” Obama said. “So my question is: How long can you stay?”
The meeting, however, was not all cheer. Kenny recalled the days of violence in Northern Ireland, which reached their most recent peak in the 90’s. “We do not want a situation where those (in the) minority who have bad thoughts and bad blood want to turn the days back to the dark days of the troubles,” he said, asking the President always to continue to support peace in the region.
Photo: Flickr via thisisbossi