The Vandalism of Beauty

I met with mosaic artist, Gary Drostle yesterday to talk about helping out on this amazing, 50 foot  mosaic project he is doing for the University of Iowa and as we were chatting I mentioned one of his public mosaics – one that, in my mind, is iconic. I say this because whenever I am talking mosaics to a  friend who has never come across the contemporary mosaic art movement, I show them a picture of Gary’s Fishpond mosaic and always, always the reaction is a chin dropping “wow!”

Now it’s your turn….here it is.

Amazing huh?

Well, yesterday  I was stunned when Gary told me that the local council where the Fishpond was located demolished the mosaic 2 years ago. My chin dropped and my mouth hung open for about a minute as Gary explained that they would not fund a small repair job and then the small repair job became a big repair job and their solution was to get rid of it instead of paying to have it repaired. Honestly, I can think of a whole bunch of us who would have repaired it for free in order to preserve this thing of beauty.

As I reflected on this sad story, the obvious things went through my mind – the lack of value given to artists and their role in society in not just making public art but maintaining it (shucks, I bet the council pays for its vehicle fleet to be serviced rather than letting them run into disrepair and then just chucking them away).

But more than that, it grieves me that this decision conveys such a cavalier attitude to beauty. As an artists, one of my motivations is to beautify.We put our hearts, our selves into this process. How can something so beautiful, so iconic, just be trashed by decision makers? Can you imagine a similar attitude to public art in Venice or Rome? I recently read that archaeological discoveries show that cave men / women had the instinct to beautify their environment and the artifacts of daily life – which confirms my hunch that beauty is an innate need and drive in us humans not an optional extra on the budget of public life.

13 Responses to “The Vandalism of Beauty”

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  1. Donna P says:

    Wow. I've always loved this piece and am so saddened to hear it was demolished. What a loss.

  2. Em says:

    How very sad and how indicitive of the throw away society we live in these days.
    Em x

  3. Amelia says:

    I totally agree!!!

    Thanks for the blog listing concetta – think I've had a couple of visitors via you, is this new?!

    Finally put my post up about living with aspergers with some interesting results . . . . Bit nerve-wracking putting things out on the world wide web, as I can forget that's exactly what it is – world wide!!!

    Here's to lots more beautifying in this world through art.


  4. Dana Barbieri says:

    That is really a sad story. I couldn't agree more with you. What an amazing piece he created and a great post.

  5. Louise Gale says:

    Oh my goodness, that is soul destroying…i really feel for him and it annoys me that there was a total disregard for a beautiful piece of art.

  6. Mindful Musings says:

    I have also admired this piece for years, and this story is devastating.

    An effective way to stop this kind of thing happening is to raise local public awareness (before destroying the pieces). Although Councils may not have the money, the public also become attached to public art and money will be spent if there is enough objection. In our town, the response from townspeople "saved" the facades of artwork on public buildings .

  7. Irit says:

    Oh no, I didn't know that this piece was destroyed. This is horrible.
    How long did it last before it was demolished?

  8. Michele at A House Called Nut says:

    That's a crushing story. I can't believe the whole, beautiful work was destroyed for something so trivial. It's a shame that a decision like that was probably up to bureaucrats instead of the public for whom the art was produced in the first place–perhaps the community would have contributed money and time to save the piece.

  9. Concetta says:

    I'm not sure exactly Irit, but it was at least 4 years from when the first small repair was needed to when it was demolished so I imagine its at least 6-8 years if not more?

  10. cbmosaics says:

    Are you kidding me?!! I LOVE this mosaic! :((

  11. Concetta says:

    Sadly no Christine. Sad isn't it?

  12. Kate England | Marmalade Moon says:

    What a sad story! This mosaic is stunning!

  13. Deborah Wahl says:

    Really Sad, I too loved that mosaic.

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