Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Laumeier Lament Administrative Woes Mirror Park"s Deterioration

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Laumeier Lament Administrative Woes Mirror Park"s Deterioration

Article excerpt

BLAME whomever or whatever you want: the weather; the old board of directors or the new one; the director of the park itself; the previous county parks director or the new one; a lack of commitment to curatorial standards; vandals; lack of adequate security. But truth doesn't depend on placing blame, and the truth is that Laumeier Sculpture Park is a mess.

Three recent trips around the grounds of the South County sculpture park during the last two weeks revealed a number of sculptures in disrepair or otherwise neglected.

A number of the site-specific sculptures were built of wood or earth or stacked stones, and their permanency was never guaranteed.

However, to allow them to deteriorate with no apparent effort to repair or protect them seems something of a dereliction of duty in an institution that specifically dedicates itself to the encouragement of the creation of modern art.

Here are some examples of neglect or abuse:

Earth has eroded away from the footings of Dan Graham's "Triangular Bridge Over Water," and one of the four large panes of glass that together form one side of the triangle is cracked in several places.

Mary Miss' "Pool Orchard Complex," built around the abandoned swimming pool on the park grounds, is littered with dead leaves and trash. The Miss installation was never expected to last a long time; ironically, it is one of least deteriorated pieces on the property. The Miss sculpture is one of the park's genuine claims to importance as a collecting institution.

Another important sculpture, a large earthworks by Beverly Pepper, is badly eroded. Although a certain wild and ever-changing appearance is part of this sculpture's promise, nowadays - with a drapery of wire mesh on one side - it looks, and is, neglected.

If you climb to the top of this sculpture, being mindful of a couple of loose stone steps, you can look over at a sculpture that was arguably the best work in the entire Laumeier collection, a cairn or stacked stone sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy. It was built during Goldsworthy's visit here in 1994. Part of its function was to mark the site nearby of a temporary sculpture Goldsworthy created in a creek.

Goldsworthy's modest but affecting sculpture has collapsed, however, either knocked down by vandals or neglect. No attempt has been made to section it off or to in any way protect it from further damage.

The interior of Jackie Ferrara's big red cedar sculpture looks like the boys' room in a college beer joint, although the graffiti writers who visit their work on this sculpture are not so clever as the average sophomore scribe. Besides this human vandalism, water has eroded the ground away from the sculpture's foundation. A nearby small-scale model of the sculpture, created for blind patrons, is deteriorating.

"The Way," the big, red and very derivative sculpture by Alexander Liberman, looked mangy last week, but that is because it is undergoing conservation. …

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