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At the county council working session on Tuesday night much of the discussion addressed two widely diverse viewpoints. Some speakers addressed the goal of having public art attract visitors and visitor dollars.
Alternatively, some spoke to the question of how public art might serve the local community, entertaining us and our children, educating us about our history and perhaps even providing fodder for thought.
It was clear that many citizens have invested many hours working on how to best achieve those goals.
I would like to encourage members of the county council and Art in Public Places Board, while they further debate how to allocate the limited funds available for public art, to consider the very generous offer on the part of Ed Grothus’ family.
For those who have forgotten, before he passed away Ed Grothus commissioned a dramatic large-scale stone sculpture. The work consists of two white granite obelisks standing on black granite bases and topped with black granite spheres. The assembled obelisks would stand almost 40 feet tall.
Inscribed on the bases in 15 languages is text condemning the nuclear weapons defense work that has been done here at the lab in the decades since 1943. Many in the community find the inscribed message decidedly offensive.
While I cannot wholeheartedly agree with Ed’s message, I cannot forget the reason Los Alamos National Laboratory was originally conceived and has continued to operate. That is, to defend a way of life whose most defining attribute is freedom of speech.
So I think there is a place in our community for the Grothus obelisks. Not because we are ashamed or embarrassed about our work, but because we celebrate our work and reasons behind it. Because we recognize that the very principle our work has defended allows, encourages, in fact demands that we, like Ed Grothus, speak up when our conscience dictates.
So let’s install the obelisks somewhere, maybe in a “Peace Park,” or something along those lines. I’m betting it will pull in way more tourist dollars than a bronze statue of a horse.