Blind justice: New sculpture for center defies convention

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Avant-garde artwork set to debut at Justice Center in December

By Kirsten Laskey

There’s no such thing as convention in the world of art.

From Claude Monet’s paintings of haystacks to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, a urinal sculpture, art is constantly evolving. While Paris or New York may seem like the typical hotbeds for creative innovations, Los Alamos is experiencing its own artistic revolution.

When Los Alamos County Council saw a photograph of David Maple’s sculpture, “Kodo,” as the recommended piece for the Los Alamos Justice Center, Councilor Robert Gibson wondered, “What is it?” Councilor Vincent Chiravalle said perhaps something a little more realistic would be more appropriate.

For many who first lay their eyes on the sculpture, the quizzical responses from some of the councilors were not all that unusual. However, the Arts in Public Places Board stood by their recommendation.

Pat Walls, a member of the Arts in Public Places Board, said “Kodo” is an abstract piece to be appreciated for its shape, color and design. “It’s up to your own interpretation,” she said.

Council ultimately agreed; they approved purchase of the sculpture, which carried a price tag of $5,010.

Walls said the sculpture is currently at Shidoni Foundry in Santa Fe. The art board is working to get a bid for a base and the county will provide lighting for the sculpture. She said she expects that the piece will be on display in December; it will be located beneath the stairwell in the main entrance of the Justice Center.

To make the selection, Walls said the board wanted to work with Justice Center stakeholders. As a result, District Court Judge Stephen David Pfeffer, who is also an artist, joined Community Services Director Stephani Johnson and Walls at Shidoni to help make the selection.

“We were looking to add some color and different media because most of the art in Los Alamos right now is outdoor sculpture in bronze, brushed aluminum or steel,” Walls said. “We really like that this is a mixed media piece and it has a combination of metal and wood and nice bright colors.”

Johnson said the three of them reported back to the board and the board members responded well to Maple’s pieces. She added the sculpture complements the alcove where it will be displayed.

Johnson said providing art in these public buildings is important because “art should be an integral part of the building it makes the building more beautiful … it adds something to a building.”

Although “Kodo,” which is a type of drum in Japanese culture, diverts from traditional art, the Arts in Public Places board is looking for a more traditional sculpture to be placed outside of the Justice Center. Walls said the board is looking for a flat, steel-cut sculpture that is life-size and represents jurors in Los Alamos.

The deadline to submit an application for the outdoor artwork is March 15, 2011.