City Seeks Ideas for Public Art to Place Atop Confederate Statues’ Empty Bases

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The vandalized base of the Lee-Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell. City work crews later scrubbed all the graffiti away.

Now that Baltimore has ripped out its controversial Confederate monuments, the city is soliciting ideas from the public for what should replace each statue on its vacant base.

A new online portal called “Monumental Sites” is now live on the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts website, serving as a “central repository” for ideas to replace the removed monument. BOPA has laid out four criteria for submissions: historical context, ease of implementation, timeframe and budget.

The site invites anyone to send a written description of their project idea. Accompanying drawings or site plans are encouraged, but not required.

Under the “timing” criterion, BOPA asks, “How long will your artwork or idea be on the site? What is the length of the performance?”

In an email, BOPA spokeswoman Tracy Baskerville emphasized that “right now, this is just a call for ideas.” Suggestions can be temporary or permanent projects, she said.

It’s not a given that the city will pick anything to place upon any of the vacant marble and stone bases, according to a disclaimer. BOPA says it “is committed to archiving all submissions and may choose to display proposals either online or through a physical exhibition,” but doesn’t guarantee implementation of any of them.

BOPA created the portal after seeing ideas for replacement aired online, Baskerville said. “Many residents and artists were putting out ideas whether through social media, email or calls, so we wanted to create a portal to capture everything.”

Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the removals of all four monuments overnight on Aug. 16, four days after the violent unrest in Charlottesville, Va., that was spurred by hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacists who went there to protest a plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

The monuments included statues of Lee and Stonewall Jackson, both Confederate generals, in the Wyman Park Dell; the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Bolton Hill; the Confederate Women’s Monument on University Parkway near the Johns Hopkins University campus; and a bust in Mount Vernon of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, who ruled in 1857 that blacks could never be more than property.

Activists seized on an opportunity with the vacancy at the Wyman Park Dell, and erected Pablo Machioli’s “Madre Luz” sculpture of a pregnant black woman with a child on her back and her fist raised in the air. However, the statue was pushed over twice that week. The second time, it was destroyed. The bases have since remained empty.

Machioli hasn’t responded to a request for comment about BOPA’s call for submissions.

Submissions must be limited to 500 words. The city is leaving the portal open until Dec. 31. If it decides to proceed with any of the ideas, Baskerville said BOPA would use a jury process to makes its selections.

Those with questions about the process can reach out to BOPA’s public art administrator, Ryan Patterson, at [email protected]. Click here for more info, or to submit your idea.

This story has been updated with comment from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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2 COMMENTS

  1. For Baltimore, this provides a once in a generation, opportunity to create a conversation for a new civic vision. Four prominent civic spaces to say what this city is about. This conversation needs to be adequately funded and expanded.

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