Whoa I’m in Washington DC with free time which always means – get away from tourists and find forgotten artworks.

The Robert A Taft Memorial and carillon holds a acre of grass and mature elms, waiting patiently for a future 21st Century tenant. Literally across the street from the nation’s capital, and somewhat ironically also across a street from the Teamsters office, the Taft Memorial is a 100 foot x 32 foot bell tower at the center of the park, built of light tan marble and holds great bronze bells which ring the time. A dignified bronze of Republican Senator Taft (1889-1953) by realist / non-avant garde (and I think also a Republican) artist Wheeler Williams. His portrait is the right.

From the look of Taft’s hand, the sculpture is meant to hold a large cigar. Whether this was removed after the Cuban revolution, or whether a real cigar is stuffed into the hand on ceremonial occasions. Otherwise the oversize bronze figure is unremarkable, which is perhaps it’s essence.

Since all new memorial artworks – especially in DC – show the dramatic effect of Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial, I had a fantasy about the future of the Taft memorial space; because ask an average 1000 Americans standing on an average streetcorner and exactly none of them can identify Robert A Taft Senator from Ohio three time presidential candidate and co-author of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. So it’s a fairly irrelevant historical space, waiting for a creative new explanation of US history. It’s never too soon to start thinking about the future, so I imagine this space as a memorial to George Bush 43, and again riffing on Maya Lin, I imagine the space as an unending construction zone symbolizing the infinite damage Bush has done to Congressional decision-making, a deep pit surrounded by plywood and razor wire, cameras and perhaps a “no photographs” copyright restriction, or a large “no trespassing” sign lit with bright alternating blue and white lights. Events could simultaneously celebrate Terry Southern (who I am certain would appreciate the connection) by filling the pit occasionally with urine and entrails of slaughtered animals, scattering cash in the filth and inviting K Streeters and congressmen to wallow and swim for it, broadcast on CSPAN and YouTube.

Ahh action is the antidote to despair. Who said that? Joan Baez.

  • Rites Of Spring – For Want Of – Live 1985 Old 9:30 Club

Planning to wander NYC seeking artwork? Visit Forgotten Delights, a compendium of photos and history of NYC representational public artwork.

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