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Letters to the editor

Photo courtesy Ana Benito

Stars and bars same as Nazi swastika

I was dismayed to read about the Lions Club’s use of a Confederate flag on its promotional materials for its Mermaid Festival this year. The Confederate flag is offensive to people across the country, and not just African-Americans. I am glad that one man, the local lawyer Jay Rigdon, raised concerns – but I am disheartened that his bravery in speaking up was met with disregard by the Lions Club representatives. He spoke for far more people than voiced their concern, folks who will not be attending the Mermaid Festival this year or in years to come because of their insensitivity.

This flag is overtly political, not geographic, as the Lions Club member you quote said. It was the flag of a group that was waging war against our nation – the nation that Indiana soldiers defended in the Civil War. It would be inconceivable to have an Oktoberfest-themed event under a Nazi flag or swastikas – symbols of a nation we fought and defeated in war – so why is the Confederate flag any different?

On a day when the Supreme Court strikes down a portion of the Voting Rights Act, it is clear that too many people seem to think that racism is only in the past, instead of an issue we are still struggling with. Ignoring the painful damage done by racist symbols and systems does not move us forward and only continues the harm.

AUDREY DeCOURSEY Fort Wayne

Sign’s translation an embarrassment

There are a significant number of Spanish speakers in Fort Wayne; I am one of them and I know there are many like me.

Fort Wayne and Fort Wayne Community Schools have plenty of qualified people who – either as native speakers, teachers or even intermediate-advanced students of the language – can read and translate from English to Spanish.

Then I come across this sign outside one of the public library branches. I have seen in some public places some bad translations. The attempted translation in this sign is one of the most horrible ones I have faced in a public space in Fort Wayne. It does not make any sense in Spanish. If the goal is to inform Spanish speakers, I can guarantee that only confusion and a huge ¿QUÉ? are going to come out of reading it.

So, my request to FWCS and Allen County Public Library staff in charge of trying to reach Spanish speakers using Spanish is that they, please/por favor, consult with somebody proficient in both languages, English and Spanish, before publicly displaying any sign like this one. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people in this city who would be happy to help, and I include myself in that group.

By the way, the sign intends to say: “Niños. Almuerzo gratis. Edad: Hasta 18 años.”

ANA BENITO Fort Wayne

Hiding guns won’t protect children

Some 40 percent of homes with children in America have guns, many unlocked or loaded. In Indiana, nearly 112,000 children and teens live in homes with loaded guns, and more than 51,000 live in homes where the guns are loaded and unlocked. Every year thousands of children are killed or seriously injured as a result.

Ask whether there are guns in the homes where your children play. If the answer is yes; make sure all guns are stored unloaded and locked, ideally in a gun safe, with the ammunition locked separately. If there are any doubts about the safety of another home, invite the children to your house instead.

Hiding guns is not enough. Just talking to children is not enough. Children are curious, and if they find a gun they’re likely to play with it.

MARGARET TIMM Fort Wayne

Damaged sculpture draws more derision … and a few defenders

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I’m not a fan of Peggy Guggenheim’s collections either.

At least the article (“Righting a toppled icon,” June 18) educated me as to the intent of the “sculpture.”

But to suggest that the museum spend $300,000 to return the Helmholtz to its glory is beyond belief. And then to possibly spend even more to build a wall around it to protect it from some other idiot driver? Amazing.

Suggestion: Build the wall high enough to hide it from sight. Better suggestion: Take the insurance money and purchase some real art.

JIM SCHMELZER Fort Wayne

They say it will cost thousands of dollars to restore the twisted beams of sculpture in front of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. But wait ... take a second look. Perhaps the new angles of artistic statement created by the entropic caress of an errant auto are a more dynamic vision. The sculpture’s new form conveys a more powerful message: humanity’s ongoing struggle – with the hope for a brighter tomorrow shining through.

I say leave this new, altered artwork be. For after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

RICHARD KOLKMAN, JR. Fort Wayne

After reading Nick Giant’s letter (“Mangled sculpture could be a useful reminder,” June 21), I agree with his views on the worthlessness of repairing the damaged sculpture that stood for years in front of the Museum of Art. My son was an ironworker, and I believe even he would have considered that piece of construction a monstrosity.

Sell it for scrap. Give the money to the city to help overcome the predicted tax shortfall. Then, maybe, if we poor folks are lucky, our taxes won’t have to be raised.

EVELYN BROWN Fort Wayne

“Amen” to Nick Giant’s letter in the June 21 Journal Gazette regarding the steel sculpture in front of the Museum of Art. I drive by that orange thing several times a week and, while my art appreciation abilities are limited, I could never find anything interesting about it.

My suggestion would be to leave it as it is, plant some flowers around it and wait for someone else to crash into it. Who knows, after a few more crashes, it might get interesting. Possibly, after bracing it so no one is injured, children could be allowed to repaint it in the colors of their choice. That would be “art.”

However, I would leave Gen. Anthony Wayne where he is now located and spend the money for a sculpture of, possibly, some Native American dignitary to be placed on the Courthouse Green – something disassociated with the name of “Parkview.”

ELAINE BOWERS Fort Wayne

I completely disagree with Nick Giant, whose letter appeared June 21, and George Kirby, who expressed his opinion in a similar letter June 25. Relative to the recent damage to Helmholtz, the metal abstract sculpture on our art museum’s grounds, both vented their very clear distaste for modern abstract art, and one even indicated he was glad the sculpture had been damaged and hoped it would be replaced by a tree.

Certainly, appreciation of the beauty of any form of art rests in the eye of the beholder. And modern abstract art is an area most misunderstood by many people. Some people who don’t admire abstract sculpture or art think good artwork is anything that depicts a scene or object as it might appear in a photograph. Not really a very imaginative or inventive interpretation of any given subject.

Giant and Kirby are entitled to their own opinions. However, I would hope that they are not so narrow-minded and biased that they cannot realize that many of the rest of us have enjoyed Helmholtz and other abstract metal sculpture through the years and look forward to its repair and replacement on the art museum’s grounds.

And I sincerely hope Kirby has room in his yard for his tree.

W. DAVID PEPPLE Fort Wayne

Could someone from the art museum please explain how repairs to a damaged sculpture (which is essentially just a bunch of steel beams welded together and painted orange) will cost $200,000 to $300,000?

A more practical suggestion: Donate a few thousand dollars to one of the local vocational schools, turn their students loose with welding equipment and paint sprayers, and make the repairs a class project. Only a few obsessive types will be able to tell that the repairs weren’t done by an expensive art conservator, and the museum will save loads of money.

Then, if someone still feels compelled to give away the remainder, there are a number of local charities that could no doubt put a couple hundred thousand dollars to much better use.

GARY GUILLUAME Fort Wayne

I saw a letter celebrating the destruction of a sculpture. Then I saw another. I suspect the vast majority of readers feel quite dejected when reading these sentiments, but I have not seen a response and a response is needed.

Could we all agree that art is a subjective experience? I suppose not; we can’t all agree on anything. Nevertheless, by definition, what I experience as art cannot align with your experience. May I have some anyway? And please, you have some as well. I’m not a fan of Norman Rockwell, but if our museum sees fit to accommodate those who are, I say, “Good, more art in Fort Wayne.”

Celebrating the destruction of art is akin to celebrating the burning of books and is as corrosive to our city.

JEFF KACHMAR Fort Wayne

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