Photo taken morning of Feb. 2 What did the artist mean? When the art is eye-catching, when it invites the mind to engage, we inevitably search for meaning. When the art is out in the public way it is constantly asking for our opinions. It must stand for our questions. As I walk about in my neighborhood, along […]
Photo taken morning of Feb. 2
What did the artist mean?
When the art is eye-catching, when it invites the mind to engage, we inevitably search for meaning.
When the art is out in the public way it is constantly asking for our opinions. It must stand for our questions.
As I walk about in my neighborhood, along with the displays people put out on their front porches and such, I see the bronze statues of Confederate States of America heroes up on marble pedestals on Monument Avenue every day.
What did those statues mean when they were installed? What might they mean to people looking at them now. Yes, I think about those things sometimes. And, why not?
While, what was intended by the creators of art and what the public will make of it later are two different things, both things matter. With public art the reaction is usually all that matters, regardless of what the artist may have intended. In the art gallery world the artist’s statement, which sometimes includes their intentions, carries some weight. Not so much on the street.
As you read this — until they come down, for whatever reasons — there is an unfolding statement that’s being made by someone here in Richmond. Displays are up at the Jefferson Davis and the Robert E. Lee monuments.
My photo of the display facing east, at Allen Avenue (Lee) is at the top.
I took the photos of the Davis monument display on Saturday afternoon. The box you see above can be seen in the photo below, too. It’s in the shadow on the base, also facing east. Don’t know if this is still there, or not.
The boxes don’t seem to be damaging the monuments, unless one chooses to take umbrage that they are there at all. Certainly other displays have been left off at the foot of the Lee monument, frequently they have to do with his birthday or some important date from the Civil War Era. Over the years I can remember, 50 or so, the monuments on Monument Avenue have rarely been harmed.
When I was in hight school someone spray-painted “Rat” a few times on the base of the Matthew F. Maury monument at Belmont and Monument. I can remember how uncool it seemed, at least it did to me. The paint was soon removed; the sand-blasting scars remained noticeable for years.
But there have been other displays. Once Jeff Davis had female clothes, including a bra, fashioned about him. Some said it referred to the legend that he escaped Richmond at the end of the Civil War by dressing up in drag.
To read a piece I wrote about displays of another sort on Monument Avenue, but nonetheless, as political as displays in the public way can get, click here for The Price of Free Speech.
Note: No doubt, these objects won’t stay where you see them but for so long. More news to come…