The industry journal that rules on Capitol Hill is not the Washington Post but Roll Call. Here it publishes “It’s Time to Bury Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Design,” an assessment of the prospects for Frank Gehry’s not just ridiculous but sinister proposal for a memorial that, above all, disrespects the memory of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The author is Justin Shubow, who heads the National Civic Art Society that has led opposition to the Gehry design. Shubow points out that Congress has essentially defunded the memorial commission pushing Gehry’s design (its chairman’s a Gehry friend going way back – to three jobs for Gehry). How do you spell conflict of interest? Congress has stripped all but a million of the commission’s budget. It not begin construction until it has raised 100 percent of the private funding it needs – of which it has very little, the taxpayer thus far being its major “donor.” The memorial design and review process is heading in reverse – the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts seems about to back away from an earlier okay of the design, and the National Capital Planning Commission has not yet voted in favor of it. The Eisenhower family is four-square against it, as Ike would be if he were alive.
And finally (though the above certainly does not sum up the Gehry design’s process woes) there is Shubow and his NCAS plugging away, marshaling a dreadnaught of opposition to torpedo the obnoxious design. His piece in Roll Call suggests that the death of a thousand cuts is well under way.
(I wrote above that Gehry’s design is sinister. By that I mean that his design is intended to take down the tradition of classical beauty that characterizes the past monuments that have made Washington so beautiful, great and ennobling. Here is my first of, I think, four or five columns standing athwart that ignoble endeavor.)