Sunday, August 14, 2011
The question of bronze
New Chuck Berry statue on the Delmar Loop, St. Louis. photo courtesy the author.
Joe Edwards, guru of the Delmar Loop, the man who single-handedly revived the commercial district near my house, has long admired Chuck Berry. Berry plays monthly gigs at Edward's Blueberry Hill restaurant / club, and they recently installed this bronze statue of Berry, right across from Blueberry Hill.
Too bad it doesn't look like Chuck Berry.
Another problem with the Berry statue--given the historical record is complicated, it doesn't do Chuck Berry any good to call him the "father of rock and roll"--it cheapens him.
What is it about the lack of refinement of bronze statuary?
Statue of Pat Tillman. photo Sheldon Branford.
This reminds me of the Pat Tillman statue the Arizona Cardinals put up of Tillman after his death by friendly fire in Iraq. Horrific face! Must frighten children!
Picture of Pat Tillman. (c) NBC sports.
A literal translation of an equally disturbing photograph. But the photograph has the life, color and movement that the statue only mangles. Why are sports people so enamored of bad representative art?
Dred and Harriet Scott plaque on the Delmar Loop Walk of Fame. photo courtesy the author.
This plaque for St. Louis-natives Dred and Harriet Scott is much more compelling as a complex public statement than the bad Berry statue.
What I do like about the proximity of the Scott plaque (Tina Turner is nearby) and the Berry statute is how it suggests the role that St. Louis has played in American life with the birthing of African American artists / activists as diverse as the Scotts and Chuck.
While St. Louis has to grapple more effectively with race--as does every other city in the country--this symbolic representation puts diverse citizens together in ways they would not have been in real life. Now that's a great public service.