Friday, December 19, 2014

Money, Where Art Thou?

Interesting question is raised in today Patriot-News: should taxpayers continue to underwrite maintenance for nude statues at capitol?

Money, Where Art Thou?

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Interesting front-page question in today's Harrisburg Patriot-News about art.

BE: Art who?

JB: Art! Art! The creative work of mankind offered as inspiration or a source for meditation or a thoughtful pause in the rush and routine of one's daily life.

BE: I could use some of that. Where can I get it?

JB: In this instance on the front steps of your state Capitol.

BE: You mean them nekked people?

JB: Oh, brother. I mean the century-old sculptures of George Grey Barnard known as "Life of Humanity." I mean the 27 marble statues of nude men, women and children in various poses of apparent discomfort since 1911. They're meant to depict mankind's spiritual burden.

BE: Out in the open for all to see? Exposed, as it where, to the elements?

JB: Two things: first, some do-gooders way back when had artists cover up the mens' (but not the boys') junk; and, second, it's the exposure to the elements that raises the question.

BE: We should cover all of them?

JB: No. Whether or not taxpayers should continue footing the roughly $120,000 a-year cost to maintain and protect the statues. The state just signed a $600,000 five-year contract to do so.

BE: Oh, I see. And now the Philistines want to auction the art work off or just stop the maintenance or get some private donor to pay the bill?

JB: Well, that's sort of the question. Whether things like art ought to be included in core-function government spending. These days everything not core-function is suspect.

BE: I suspect this sets off a discussion of whether tax dollars for art is an investment for the greater good or an unnecessary public expense.

JB: Now you got it. Spend on social needs, education, health insurance for the poor? Give this kind of money back to the General Fund? Or the taxpayers? Sell the statutes for lawn ornaments?

BE: Hmmm. I'd like a nekked lawn ornament, I won't lie.

JB: You're such a Renaissance man. Grrr.

 

 

 

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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