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Tuesday, April 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Matter of Opinion

Does art enjoy immortality?

If you haven't read this morning's front-page story about an Expo-vintage sculpture that's apparently destined for removal from Riverfront Park, here's a link.

It makes me wonder. When we place a value on public art and urge its proliferation, we often have debates about its merits.  Many, many adornments on our municipal, school and state institutions face enduring criticism,  but they simply become part of the landscape, beloved by some, despised by others, unnoticed by many.

 A huge debate occurred several years ago in Olympia over a set of abstract murals that depicted the 12 labors of Hercules. They were commissioned for the gallery of the House of Representatives but provoked so much protest they eventually were taken back down.  That was an exception. For the most part, we assume that art, once in place, is to be there forever.

The piece that is featured in today's paper is feared to be deteriorating to the point it poses a risk to children who clamber over it.  Even so, there is controversy, partly out of respect for the artist who created it.

To my unsophisticated eye, it's a dated and not particularly inspiring sculpture.  But that's just one beholder's opinion.  The broader question is whether we're willing to accept that art might have a natural lifespan.  At some time, at least some of it should be removed and, OK, thrown away.  Or should we be asking ourselves a standard question when making decisions about public art: Are we dedicating ourselves to preserving this piece forever?

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