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Sculpture is gate to a better Clearwater

Bruce White’s Sorcerer’s Gate is part of a public art gallery on Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater.


Bruce White’s Sorcerer’s Gate is part of a public art gallery on Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater.

Re: It's censorship, not art, that's inappropriate editorial, July 17

Sculpture is gate to a better city

Thank you for the great editorial on the controversial artwork, titled Sorcerer's Gate, in downtown Clearwater.

As an artist in the community for more than 20 years, I have seen all the struggles downtown Clearwater has gone through trying to be an interesting, beautiful and exciting town — with very limited success until now.

I was part of the art community that tried to revitalize Cleveland Street in the early 1990s, and we did have some great results, but it was short lived.

Downtown Clearwater is finally becoming the artsy mecca that has been so successful in downtown Dunedin, Safety Harbor and even Largo, and I have waited a long time for it to happen. I so hope that restaurants and stores will bring their businesses there so we, too, can have a downtown we will be proud to bring our out-of-town guests to.

The Scientologists are not a threat. When I had my store, they were good patrons and friendly.

The fact that there is an emotional response to the art is not only a good thing, it is to be expected whenever there is public art on display. The City Council needs to get a little bit more sophisticated when fanatics make all the noise, and stick to their beliefs that public art is always good for the community.

Shannon O'Leary-Beck, Clearwater

Re: It's censorship, not art, that's inappropriate editorial, July 17

Call it prudence, not censorship

People certainly are "analyzing, criticizing, defending and generally trying to figure out" the three sculptures recently installed on Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater.

After examining the pieces, reading letters and your editorial, and participating in several discussions with both proponents and critics, I think a couple of points are not getting enough attention.

First, your criticizing City Council members for censorship is way off the mark. Let's begin with a definition. Webster says censorship is the act of an official judging something to be morally or otherwise objectionable. I believe those council members who see themselves as the appropriate final arbiters of what is displayed on public property are mindful of their duty to protect the image/reputation of the city and are the ones who have an official duty to decide what is objectionable or not based on its impact on that image.

I have not seen anything to imply they want to make the final decision because of words like "sorcerer." Nor do they wish to eliminate the earlier judgments of others to select among the many submitted for possible display. But just as they must oversee gatherings of individuals on public property through laws governing permits, so they must have the final say about objects on public property which might lead to undue ridicule, squabbling or just plain bad PR.

Second, these items are not given to the city; they remain the personal property of the artists. Not only that, they are known to be for sale. One of the sculptors was reported by your paper as saying her sculpture is judged to be worth $60,000, but she would be happy to sell it for $30,000, the typical price for such a work. What other entrepreneurs are permitted to display their goods for sale for a year at a time on public property, and undoubtedly protected by the police?

Finally, a word about taste. Yes, it is in the eye of the beholder. But if you saw Andy Rooney's piece about "so-called works of art on public display" on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago, you could see how easy it is for scorn to arise on a national level for objects that would not meet any community standards as works of art. One thinks of the time-worn quote about pornography and community standards: "I know it when I see it."

Art Deegan, Clearwater

Re: It's censorship, not art, that's inappropriate editorial, July 17

City Council needs to butt out

First and foremost, give the downtown Clearwater associations and their members credit for attempting to make Cleveland Street a desirable environment for both visitors and locals.

Criticism of the artworks recently installed on Cleveland Street is due in part to the coverage of the works by the St. Petersburg Times.

Remember, these art pieces were not paid for by taxes and the City Council of Clearwater really has no legal right to say what gets installed unless council members want to create an arts ordinance that states what can and cannot be installed on the public streets.

If they do not like getting phone calls and e-mails from "frightened" citizens, then maybe they need not run for re-election.

Jay Bach, Oldsmar

Sculpture is gate to a better Clearwater 07/17/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 20, 2008 8:19am]
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