Friday, December 17, 2004

Sculpture Story #1

I have long been interested in a Texas-based sculptor, Pompeo Coppini, an Italian who worked a great deal in San Antonio and New York. He produced the Littlefield War Memorial (aka Littlefield Fountain) and various associated sculptures at the University of Texas in Austin. Another famous work is the Cenotaph in front of the Alamo.

In my hometown, city fathers back in 1912 commissioned a medium-sized statue from Coppini—a little larger than life-size, perhaps not quite as Heroic as some of his more famous works—of an average looking locally famous businessman. These days it is difficult to find any mention of the old gentleman on the Internet and so I guess he is only remembered by local historians and a few street signs. The city fathers had perhaps more money than sense, whether you're talking about the old ones who commissioned the statue or the more recent ones who redrew the city in a manner that effectively hid one of the city's supposed treasures.

The statue is still there, you see, in a flat monotonous park in a fallen-down part of town near our gray but busy port. It's not far from my Aunt Ruth's old house where I played as a child. Though I remember that park a little, I don't remember the statue at all; such things were of no interest to a kid. Since my childhood, the traffic has been rerouted so that the streets now drive through and split up the park into sections, the statue now on a piece of the park that is a sort of vacant oblong shape. The statue is isolated out there on that narrow piece of land bounded by busy streets and no parking. It is difficult for anyone to ever see it, even if they want to. The last time I looked at it, I had somebody drive me to it during light traffic and I jumped out to make sure of the name of the now thoroughly forgotten man who's memorialized there. The statue's still good to look at, yet who else around here would go to that amount of trouble to go see it? After all, it's a statue of—who?!

Modern jaded school kids can't be impressed by it, I'm certain of that. So a thing that can't be loved sits where it can't be seen in an empty park that's not much more than a wide boulevard. I'd say that old Coppini statue of old So-and-so has reached a dead end.

These things happen all the time, I suppose, in towns across the country—Americans ignoring, burying, or losing our cultural heritage while we worry more about losing our SUV's and super-sized drinks. God, we're heathens.

There will be a similar, but different, story about a sculpture tomorrow, if you haven't been punished enough already.

Feeling Is The Least

But now I dream to sleep,
No longer sleep to dream,
For comfort’s greatest these cold fey days
Where feeling is the least.


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