Friday, December 29, 2006

New Orleans is Thunderdome

Depression and revulsion at hearing this story on NPR this morning. I don't care how many songs Bono and Green Day write about the Saints football team, New Orleans should be sealed off, the levees blown to bits, and sunk like a WWII minesweeper.

Thieves recently broke into an art studio in New Orleans and -- using a bolt cutter, hacksaw and hammer -- dismantled several bronze sculptures created by artist John T. Scott, hauling the metal away.

It was another case of "industrial looting," when thieves strip copper, brass or other scrap metals from buildings and sell it. Scott's world-renowned artwork normally draws thousands of dollars per piece, but these sculptures likely were sold as scrap metal for just a few hundred dollars.

John Scott is in hospital in Houston, recovering from a second lung transplant. (more here) He hasn't been told about the destruction of his art for fear of his health.

Scott is a black artist, whose work deals largely with slavery and race, which makes the fact that these pieces were stolen and sold for scrap even more depressing.

From Black Collegian: The underpinning notion of (a series that Scott created) is that, psychologically, looking through windows allows people, especially African Americans, to overcome barriers.

If it's not clear by now, let me pound this into the ground: Scott's work - at least these pieces - survived the hurricane, the floods, and the abandonment of the city and his studios. His work could not survive the people of New Orleans.

From NY Times: John T. Scott, a local sculptor who drove to Houston at 3:30 a.m. the day Katrina hit, thinks he has lost his house and his studio. "I have a two-story studio, but if there was six feet of water, who knows," he said.

A major retrospective of Mr. Scott's work at the New Orleans Museum of Art ended on July 10, and at least one-third of the 199 pieces in the show were at his studio at the time of the hurricane. The rest, he said, were at the gallery of his dealer, Arthur Roger, which suffered no significant damage. Miraculously, neither did his eight public-art works that dot the city, including a large, kinetic steel piece on the river. "It has survived five or six hurricanes already," Mr. Scott said. "And it still looks the way it did when I made it."


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