Art should be private; Who decides what 'art' is?; Living in a democracy?; Transparency or hypocrisy? — Letters to the Editor, Oct. 16, 2019

Art should be private, not public

A culture without the arts — whether in sculpture, on canvas, in the theatre or symphonic productions in the academy — is welcomed; a well-rounded, wholesome civilization needs the calming affectation of beauty where ‘ere it transcends.

For centuries, the world has produced Da Vincis, Michelangelos, Pavarottis and even the Isaac Sterns of the ages. America has imported and even encouraged the arts at home and abroad, funded with donations, purchases and gate receipts all of a private nature until President Lyndon Johnson’s philosophy of “government knows best.”

Even the arts, represented by the new (1965) National Endowment of the Arts agency, was created based on LBJ’s ideas. The thought of government-sponsored art gained momentum over the decades and now we have frankenstein-like modern versions of destructive art in America’s cities and hamlets — which do not enervate society but, rather, aggravate its origins of common sense and (at times) decency.

One of those hamlets in the latter times is lovely Florence, a town of retirement and ease. To interrupt those wonderful senior citizens, who have worked tirelessly for ‘lo so many years, with local government snooping in their wallets to support art that has been decided by a small oligarchy seems strange and wrong-headed.

All the meetings with PAC and our City Council deciding on how to spend the citizens’ scarce funds on controversial 21st-century so- called art is none of our municipality’s business.

The arts are a private matter with private decisions based on private tastes. I do not trust a public pack of individuals to make personal decisions on my preferences as they, with many smiles, use my monetary gains instead of their own.

Florence should eliminate the philosophy that “art is public.” It is not — and never was — until the “war on poverty.”

And poverty won

—Joel Marks


Who decides what ‘art’ is?

I am still confused about the Public Arts Committee and the City Council’s involvement in our arts (murals). It is called the “Public” and not “City” Arts Commission. I assume this has all to do with murals and not things like sculpture. Now, if our city government wants to have a mural painted on one of its buildings, does it have go through a review by PAC and — if approved — does it go to the city council (which seems to be a conflict) for final approval?

Now, if I am an owner of a private establishment and want a mural painted on it, I assume I would have to have the approval of the PAC and not the city. The PAC, like many cities, should not have a requirement from the city because guidelines have been established on “content” and not on “expression.”

Our city council needs to get out of deciding what “is or isn’t art” and start dealing with more important matters that confront us.

—Win Jolley


Living in a democracy? Think again

In 2017, the people of Lincoln County voted to ban the timber industry practice of spraying toxic chemicals from helicopters to kill plants that compete with the growth of newly-planted fir trees.

The day after passing this protective law, Lincoln County was sued by timber interests. But for two years, the spray ban had remained in effect until, on Sept. 26, a circuit court judge ruled for big timber and against the people.

The initiative system exists to provide citizens a way to participate in a “would-be” democracy. When our elected officials fail to represent us and act in the community’s interests, we engage in the time consuming, hard work of writing initiatives, gathering signatures and getting these potential laws to the ballot box for the citizenry to vote on.

Clearly, those democratic principles — upon which the initiative system rests — are under attack by those who would prefer that the people remain silent.

Not so fast, corporate interests (and the judges who do their bidding). There are consequences when the will of the people is disrespected. We should all be inspired that the good people of Lincoln County have no intention of backing down from protecting their collective home from corporate harm and greed.

They will appeal the ruling.

Stay tuned; the struggle for justice is far from over.

—Michelle Holman


Transparency or hypocrisy?

Does anyone else find it hypocritical that, this week, the Trump Administration announced a new regulation for transparency in government?

The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary describes hypocrisy as: “The false profession of desirable or publicly approved qualities, beliefs or feelings, esp. a pretense of having virtues, moral principles or religious beliefs that one does not really possess.”

—Marilyn M. Adkins



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