Deborah Campo, a self proclaimed local artist, has proposed "gifting" a large metal sculpture to the town that she has titled the "Peace Flame Tree".The sculpture, which dimensions are sketchy (somewhere between 6' to 8' tall and possibly 4' around) lacks originality of design. It reminds me of one of those kids prefab wood sculptures that you pop out and slot together. Whether I like or dislike the aesthetics, the artist's vision and and execution really is a non-issue. After all this is art and there will be a large division in the general population regarding its eventual acceptance or lack thereof. This is easily accommodated with guidelines set forward in a public art policy. Of course here in Aurora we do not have one. The even larger issue I have is the fact that it's a sculpture of a tree engulfed in flames. It is a tree used to symbolize peace, and it is on fire. Why? Nowhere in any of the P.R. nonsense from the countless Mayora Banner articles I have read regarding this has the symbolism been explained. I would expect it to before any decision is made regarding accepting or placing it in public. I don't know about you but the very symbolism of a "peace tree" on fire I find extremely disturbing. Why not just burn the peace symbol itself? A quick Google Search for "Peace Tree" produces 14,000,000 results.
Of course I didn't look through all 14,000,000 but the ones I did were not set ablaze. For comparison's sake here is one site that lists Peace sculptures around the world : http://peace.maripo.com/p_sculpture.htm It also lists Peace Trees : http://peace.maripo.com/p_trees.htm Closer to home several Peace Trees are popping up in york Region as Peace Tree Day is observed on June 1st.
Here's a unique design from a collective of students in Thornhill: http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/578331–peace-tree-flourishes There are several other Peace trees being designed in the region, and we should be conscious of them before we move so quickly to shaping our own. Apparently council debated this issue at length at their last General Committee, and then resurrected the item for debate at the last council meeting. I understand the debate was less around the nature of the sculpture itself but more to do with the location.
With all the head scratching has anyone considered, oh I don't know, maybe the Arboretum? The Arboretum, which houses trees would be an ideal home for one more, no?
And considering the bags of money the Arboretum is being shoveled from the budget, perhaps it could pay the $1000 "Honorarium" that Ms. Campo has asked for, in exchange for her "gift" to the town. If anyone who is reading this could suggest it to Mr. Tree, so he can recommend it to council, that would be great. As far as I'm concerned an inordinate amount of time has already been spent by council on an issue as piddly as this one. It only solidifies the need for a Public art policy, and why one needs to be present BEFORE any public art pieces are decided upon at the council level. Councilor MacHeckron clearly voiced that she doesn't want to wait for such a policy. Why not? This is the same councilor that quotes policy and procedure like scripture. For a true bureaucrat like MacHeckron one wonders why when she is so rigid and anal about every facet of town business she would suddenly make an exception for something as trivial as this. Failure to adhere to a policy so sets a precedent. Who else is going to approach council with similar requests and expect to have them granted? Councilor MacHeckron then went on to elude that creating such a policy could take 10 years. How exactly did she arrive at that conclusion? Oh wait, that's right if councilor MacHechron was involved there would be a significant deferral to staff, numerous studies conducted on the tax dollar, then she would dismiss it all and probably hire a lawyer to draft up a completely different policy at even more expense just like she did to the town's Master Wreck Plan. Or council could take the same approach to this policy as the downtown core and it could be in the planning stage for going on 30 years. Seriously though, 10 years? I have to agree with councilor McRoberts, that seems like a preposterous projection, Even if it took a year, what is the rush exactly? As it has been pointed out it has not been built yet, so there should be none. There was an argument that materials and labor which is being donated for this project may pull-out unless acted upon quickly.
Again, if businesses are on board then why exactly is there a sensitive time frame for completion? One only needs to dig a little deeper to determine the true sense of urgency. I had a brief 10 minute encounter with Ms. Campo last year at the Farmer's Market. Discussions included her project, but also went in several tangents including experiences she had with paintings flying off walls which she gladly recounted to the Mayora banner here:
http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/549472–aurora-has-fair-share-of-ghostly-sites I know several artists, and several more wannabe artists. It only took a couple minutes to recognize that she is the latter. Her twitter feed ( http://twitter.com/Valerianart ) confirms her vapidness and does little to convince me that she is anything but the Heidi Stokelin of Aurora's Art Scene. Ms. Campo should be commended for doing an excellent job of getting in everyone's face. She has been persistent and has run up and down the town getting support for this project. For someone who's often found using her talents to provide free face painting at town events, and whose greatest claim to fame is having one of their paintings featured on a wine label there is no doubt that this would be a significant accomplishment for Ms. Campo. Ms. Campo actually refereed to the peace tree as "her legacy". I fail to see the same benefit for our town.