Art removal hurts Castle Rock's image, ex-mayor says

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Randy Reed, Castle Rock's mayor from 2006 to 2010, recently asked Castle Rock Town Council to put back a bronze sculpture the town council removed this summer from town hall after Mayor Paul Donahue brought up his concern that the piece — which looks like a melting earth — might be politically contentious.

Reed said he didn't think this was the image the town wanted to project.

“We do welcome art, we welcome artists,” said Reed, who also served for six years on the town's public arts commission. “Some of the best economic drivers in communities around the country today are artists moving into communities bringing their studios and galleries.”

At the same Sept. 17 council meeting, writer and actor Denis Gessing, of Castle Rock, asked the same of council. He said because of council's “outrageous censorship,” he took a survey of about 80 artists and patrons at the town's recent art fest who signed his petition, which stated the following: “The sculpture is not the mayor's and city council's personal property to be censored, sold, traded, or removed based on their personal bias. We demand this sculpture be left in place.”

Gessing said artists and patrons “showed concern with Castle Rock becoming an intolerant and repressive art community.” He said artists pay $350 for a booth along with travel and living expenses, and he wondered about the effect the council's action might have on future art fests.

The bronze sculpture, a piece about 8 inches tall, had been affixed to a stair railing. It resembled a melting earth with a bird looking on — and a plaque with the words “Global Warming” was near it. The town's public arts commission, funded by individuals, private companies and an annual allotment from the Philip S. Miller Trust Fund, bought the piece in 2012 and placed it in town hall.

The decision to remove it happened Aug. 6 after Donahue told the council he noticed the statue with the “global warming” plaque and it occurred to him that “it really doesn't make sense for the town of Castle Rock to be financing pieces of art that could advocate a certain political position …”

Reed said he's “confused and a little not quite understanding why the council chose to remove a piece of art … that was in the town (hall) for eight months until it appeared that people found out the name of the piece and then decided it should be removed.”

Reed informed the council that the sculpture “is still around” and could be returned.

“And if it's better, we could call it `melting earth,' if that would help people at all,” he said.