Friday, August 5, 2011

Our Secret Sculpture Unveiled - "Tempered by Memory"

UPDATE August 24-
SEE and COMPARE what was PROMISED...
and what was DELIVERED.

* * *

UPDATE August 19- WHY the sculpture will never have a home...
below the comments below the pix.
* * *
UPDATE August 17-
Read the critics NOT heard by the City Council, below pix.

* * *

our city's

almost-here memorial to 9/11--
"Tempered by Memory"?

No newspaper
has published even a sketch.

The Saratoga Arts Council
shares it... quietly. Selectively. Under duress.

With thanks to a reporter who was granted viewing privileges by the Arts Council,
you are cordially invited to view the piece... CLICK pix to enlarge, BACK ARROW to return--

I present a recent photograph of the 25-foot high sculpture, homeless for the moment...

A Graphic Designer took the image to create a view with blue sky as the background...

A photo posted AUGUST 9 on the website of the Arts Council...

The Plaque to commemorate the appointed/anointed artists was provided by the Council...

...and the description is taken from the website of the Arts Council--

"The arrangement of these pieces will help us temper our memories of September 11 and send a message about the transformative power of art, the strength of communities, and the ability of creativity and vision to carry a community beyond tragedy."

The visionary sketch of a concept of a notion (above)...
versus the sizable-ridable Real Thing (below)--

Finally, an official Arts Council-approved photo
posted on their website late on August 9.
(Excellent Larry White photography!)

Forehead-level detail...

Base/ground-level detail...

I must say,
is a lovely plaque.

UPDATE August 17-
The Council Public Hearing was jam-packed by Mr. Reed's Art Council.
For whatever their reasons, at least 24 non-cheerleaders DID NOT appear...
so the one voice of dissent was mine.
Those "other" opinions exist...and I reprint a mere few here--

FourStarDave wrote on Aug 16, 2011 3:00 PM:

"If this is going to be Saratoga Springs' Memorial to 9/11 then by all means we, the residents of Saratoga Springs, should have a say as to how our memorial should be and look. To just dogmatically accept this as our memorial because some artists or artistic organization wants us to is just not fair. I have a right to voice my opinion and I see no value in displaying a 25-ft pile of blood-stained wreckage as our tribute to those who lost their lives to such a despicable act. The 9/11 Memorial at World Trade Center is a much better and more fitting tribute as Mayor Bloomberg stated- ‘The void leaves it to one's imagination to imagine what stood and then to reflect’."

jrm62 wrote on Aug 16, 2011 9:30 AM:

"Why did they make it a twisted monstrosity? The war memorial in the park is a better example- you don't see twisted tanks and plane wreckage. If I died in 9/11 I would not want to be remembered this way. I'd be glad to be in heaven as far from that man made scrap as I could get. Is this some kind of a joke? Another stupid Saratoga idea- Ugly,waste and a terrible way to remember innocent victims."

OutOfTowner wrote on Aug 16, 2011 5:07 AM:

"It is ugly, not hideous, but ugly. I openly admit that I probably don't have an artistic bone in my body, but I do know what I like to see and what I don't. It is not appealing in any way and does not draw my attention at all. And it really makes me wonder why the art counsel needs $196,000 donated towards this thing."

whisper wrote on Aug 16, 2011 7:31 AM:

"The sculpture is not a good thing. It is not a good memorial to the poor people who died 9/11. I wouldn't want it as a memorial if I had died like that--I would want the world to have more beauty, not less."

smartenup wrote on Aug 16, 2011 9:32 AM:

" Not only is that work of art truly "ugly", the whole debate has become "ugly." If someone doesn't like it, they are disparaged. People are now FORCED to like a work of art that does not speak to many nor does it appeal to most except to some whole believe they are the intelligentsia of artistic design and creations. Arrogance rules the day. We have become an ugly culture. Shame on all of us and on these new idols being generated in these dark times."

Frodo wrote on Aug 16, 2011 1:26 PM:

"The fact that the steel itself is rubble from the WTC is really it only memorial value. If it weren't for that, this 'statue' would have no expression on its own and in no way appear to have any connection, artistically or otherwise, to 9/11.”

uthink wrote on Aug 16, 2011 8:50 AM:

"This certainly belongs somewhere else...far away. Contacting city officials is a waste of time, they should have planned the parameters and approved the design with tax payer input. The council put the cart before horse."

gottalovesaratoga wrote on Aug 16, 2011 8:30 AM:

"Dear god that thing is a MONSTER. I'm sorry but this does not belong anywhere in our beautiful downtown. "

Bluedog wrote on Aug 12, 2011 1:11 PM:

"Ugly, doesn't fit in the city. Unfair process. Let's hope the City Council gives this a thumbs down."

twopondsnorth wrote on Aug 10, 2011 10:11 AM:

"The Arts Council should pay attention to this letter. The purpose is to connect people to art, not force someone's choice down the public's throat."

racing city wrote on Aug 10, 2011 4:15 PM:

"Lets say you have seen the Arts Councils statue. Now lets say you HAD to choose between putting 1 Italian sculpture from Congress Park or the steel statue on your front lawn. Would you still choose the Arts Council's 24-foot high pile of steel?"

saratogakid wrote on Aug 13, 2011 12:34 AM:

“I think the citizens should have a large input on where this one would go and once a piece like this is placed on Broadway does this open the door for more art of the like to also be placed there? We have a beautiful park right across the street that could make a great home for a memorial statue along with the other tributes."

spacity4life wrote on Aug 16, 2011 8:35 AM:

"I could put together a 20-foot high pile of Dog POO and call that art, but should we have to see it on Broadway? Just saying..."

spatastic wrote on Aug 16, 2011 7:59 AM:

"The use of the material could have been a very exciting emotionally-charged abstract expression of that horrible day and our ability as a country to grow from it… but I "don't see it." It is missing the point... it looks like 25 ft of scrap."

treadlefish wrote on Aug 16, 2011 8:00 AM:

"It’s big and incredibly ugly. It belongs nowhere in Saratoga.”

IRONMAN wrote on Aug 16, 2011 8:17 AM:

"It wasn’t just Saratogians that observed that tragedy nor should we imagine that this artistic expression will make us all more patriotic. The stark expression of the twisted steel sculpture may very be well too disquieting an image in front of either the small public space that is left in front of the City Center or the last remaining large public space in front of the Saratoga Springs Visitor’s Center – one that can accommodate a variety of seasonal exhibits – and ones that do not have to remind us solely of that tragic day in September. "

broadway billy wrote on Aug 16, 2011 9:42 AM:

"Put it in front of the Riggi's shack on North Broadway. It will fit right in."

Mr Bluster wrote on Aug 16, 2011 10:02 AM:

"As stated in the blog Nanoburgh the ‘art’ belongs at the train station. It is too ugly for downtown. People will ridcule it."

listening wrote on Aug 16, 2011 10:40 AM:

"The State park is a consideration for this project. It’s on Broadway, has lots of parking and lots of room for a monument. I agree that the Mayor should have been involved in the planning process. Surely we have artists in Saratoga Springs."

Jesus was a Liberal wrote on Aug 16, 2011 12:32 PM:

"I look at that sculpture and see DEATH and MALFEASANCE. Nothing positive about it. Keep it out of Saratoga Springs."

saratogasprings2010 wrote on Aug 16, 2011 12:54 PM:

"You can't be serious. This looks like a piece of junk. Has someone lost their mind? This trash should not even be under consideration no matter where it came from. Send it back to NYC."

connie wrote on Aug 16, 2011 5:42 PM:

"Do not subject our downtown to this ugly piece of steel that carries no message at all. The Navy base out Rt. 29 might like to have it or some other community might welcome it. We do not need it, especially at the Visitor's Center."

topknotch wrote on Aug 16, 2011 9:27 PM:

"Lay this to rest somewhere near the national cemetery. We don't need this in town it looks terrible. I'm an Art major. Next will be having a horse laying dead, all twisted up. This is not attractive."

wary wrote on Aug 10, 2011 7:44 AM:

"Unfortunately, I cannot see anything about the 'memorial' that is meaningful. It is ugly. I do not want to take my visitors around the city to view all the beauty and have to "explain" another questionable, hard-to-explain structure.”

* * *

WHY "Tempered by Memory"
will never have a permanent home:

Q- Puh-leeeeze... WHERE and WHEN have "DANGEROUS" sculptures been cited and removed?

A- History teaches--

"The Arts Commission voted unanimously to dispose of the piece due to safety considerations. The sculpture had been a magnet for kids to climb and sit upon. It had been donated to the city by an artist not versed in the unique demands of public art works and had rusted both inside and out and was thus deemed a safety hazard."

"Richard Serra’s site-specific sculpture “Tilted Arc” was removed from a Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan after complaints that the sculpture was a safety hazard and prevented the public from using the space for recreation."

"The metal cow is a hazard that should be removed, said a city policeman who had to remove the cow twice yesterday from the street. The cow, cut from a steel plate and intended as a piece of art, has sharp horns that the police officer said are like "swords" that could impale somebody either accidentally or during a scuffle."

" 'Tracing the Fore', an undulating steel sculpture will soon be installed in a private sculpture garden. One businessman said the jagged steel 'waves' designed to evoke currents in the nearby Fore River reminded him of razor blades. Soon after, the city’s Public Art Committee began a process considering whether to relocate the piece or get rid of it altogether. Ultimately, the city decided to sell it at auction."

"In 2008, the sculpture was removed from campus. After being subjected to decades of inclement weather, it had greatly deteriorated and was quickly becoming a safety hazard to all who frequented the courtyard in which it previously stood."

Q- Ummm, Puh-leeeeze... In a NATION this BIG, you got only FIVE problems? Not many “Child Killers,” eh Yorkie???

A- Most Public Sculptures are SAFE because they follow the universally-used 11-step Public Process, see pages 1 and 10-13:

You'll note that step number SIX (6) calls for preparation of a formal RFP. You can use the internet to find THOUSANDS of RFPs, virtually ALL use the same "boilerplate" language to ensure a SAFE design. For example:

"The Cultural Arts Commission is seeking existing sculpture available for a temporary exhibit. Design and materials must mitigate any potential hazard to the public; such as a safe surface for climbing children."

"Artists will be required to submit a proposal and rendering/photos of the work to be displayed. The Town is not liable for any issues related to the artwork such as potential injury liability, fire hazard, traffic accident, etc. Artist is responsible for acquiring his/her own property insurance."

"Particular attention needs to be given to ensure artworks do not represent any danger to adults and children; as such issues such as sharp edges and secure attachment should be considered prior to submitting entries."

"Works deemed unsafe, overly fragile, or otherwise unsuitable will not be considered for the exhibition."

"Work deemed unsafe will not be accepted."

Q- Oh. Please... WHY would experienced ARTISTS and wise ARTS COUNCIL LEADERS do something so…well, so STUPID?

A- The chosen Artists make sculptures for PRIVATE owners.
So an individual can pay $120,000 and be delighted to have the sculptor jab them in the eye with a red hot piece of rebar. And when their larger pieces are on display in Galleries, plenty of signs and security ropes keep visitors from getting hurt. As far as leadership, this disaster is a sad example of on-the-job learning. But there IS a future for the steel and there IS still HOPE for an appropriate memorial:

Our City’s Director of Risk and Safety Marilyn Rivers has not yet weighed in on the sculpture. Ms. Rivers takes her responsibilities seriously. EXTREMELY seriously. You might want to see her opinion once she submits it to Commissioner Franck. But while we wait for Ms. Rivers emphatic warning/rejection, the way forward is Tempered by Reality-

With the current predicament of an unusable sculpture made with 13 tons of WTC steel, now is the time for the City Council to re-start the Art program… only THIS time City guidance can assure a proper process by following the 11-step process (see PDF pages 10-13).

Let the City Council appoint a “Planning Committee” without delay, and to welcome ideas that use “raw” steel AND designs using melted steel to fulfill creative visions and fill the Public Space with a safe and accessible creation.

For the immediate future, the sculpture will be moved to the DPW Garage on the West Side, secure behind the lot's fencing. The upper ten-foot “neck” extension will be cut off without delay in the event of unauthorized access.

But any work by the "Siting Committee" is doomed to failure...unless the fenced-off DPW Lot tops the list.

Q- Please... HOW is it that YOU are smarter than the ENTIRE City Council?

A- I am not smarter.
They simply haven’t heard from their Expert, Marilyn Rivers.

But they will.




  1. Thank you for posting the designs.

    Looks like the base is smaller...was the 'metal' that was removed (?) part of the original donation ? Was it added to the sculpture ? If not, were is it ? Just curious....

  2. I believe the artists and the Arts Council are still working on the design of a base/pedestal. It's certainly possible that the design might want to reflect the official site. I believe all of the steel is WTC... it appears that the large "loop" that forms the center is a purely original piece, a large beam that was literally foled back on itself in the collapse. That piece ALONE was a moving and powerful reminder.


  3. were=where

    Thank you for your reply.

    I fully agree with you. I like the K.I.S.S. rule - the one piece - formed by the 'event' - would be enough of a 'statement' - to outlast any artist manipulation.

    It will be interesting to see what the movie will show...

  4. The only people making any sense in this whole affair are

    1) those suggesting various locations in the Spa Park ; and

    2) The Nanoburgh blog, who was the first to suggest the train station.

    Frankly, I consider all of this sideshow to be a waste of time. Let's just deal with the issue at hand and find a permanenet home for this thing.

  5. Thank you 7:08. But in either case, a State Park or an Amtrak Station, the owners would insist that the current Owner (the City) would provide all liabtlity insurance.

    If the project had started with a proper RFP, the "permanent home" would be a done deed. But as it stands, a combination of ignorance and arrogance have made the 13-ton sculpture forever homeless.



Comments Welcome!