LA VALLEUR COMMUNICATES: Musings by Barbara La Valleur — What The Cluck?

What the Cluck! Have we been Cluckolded?

No one can convince me that a 10-foot bright blue rooster is more interesting, artistic or pleasing to look at than Claes Oldenburg’s and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Spoonbridge and Cherry.”  I’ve loved that sculpture since I first saw it over 20 years ago. And with today’s high 90s temperatures, the water mist that fell on my face was a welcomed relief.

However, in promoting today’s (Saturday) reopening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden complete with official ribbon cutting ceremony, the Walker is clearly communicating the blue cock has what it takes with Hahn, the German word for cock or rooster.

Despite all the negative press the Walker has received the past two weeks due to an ill-planned choice to include “Scaffold,” a sculpture by California artist Sam Durant, in its new collection.

The Native American community powerfully and peacefully protested that it was not OK to display the “sculpture” meant to be a commentary on capital punishment in the U.S. with design elements from the gallows used in the 1862 hanging of 38 Dakota men in Mankato.

Some have said Walker Executive Director Olga Viso should resign. I disagree. She acknowledged the mistake, which I might add was not her’s alone, apologized and worked with the Native American community through a mediator. The sculpture was removed in less than a week. Native American elders will be meeting this month to determine what should happen to the wood used in the sculpture, whether it should be burned or used to make something positive.

We all make mistakes. This has been a huge learning experience for countless people; I would assert far more than if everything had gone smoothly in the beginning. Who among us has not made a mistake? I believe Director Viso has learned from this mistake and in the process, due to local and national media attention, thousands of people have learned more about Native American and our history as well as how some works of art are not viewed the same by all people. I say move forward.

I was particularly proud when viewing and photographing the ribbon-cutting ceremony to witness the four powerful woman doing the honors. They were Jayne Miller, Minneapolis Parks superintendent; Lt. Gov. Tina Smith; Olga Viso, Walker Art Center executive director; and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

So, I’m happy I went today. I’ll enjoy the sculpture garden even more in a few weeks when I can walk on the grass and take photos at the angles I like to take them for my best results. No doubt, I’ll head first for the Spoonbridge and Cherry. I’m not going to be “clucked.”

Leave a Reply