Art isn’t easy

Who said art should be easy? Artists strive to present us with a stimulus that opens a new door to perception (“Threshold”).

Sculptors ask us to engage a language of form and contemplate a work’s nuances and interrelationships. Public sculpture in the round demands that we investigate it from all angles and interact with it spatially, not just hurl names at it.

Over 100 years ago, the modern artist Marcel Duchamp created a “ready made” work entitled “Bicycle Wheel,” which challenged the definition of art and demonstrated that a commonplace object can become transformed in meaning or form when changing its context. Artists lead us to re-examine what we take for granted in our world.

I appreciate Susan Zoccola’s contribution to the cultural life of Ashland. I applaud that she has offered a work that challenges people to expand their perceptual skills. The fact that both the cities of Denver and Tacoma have recently commissioned this same artist to create new works for their communities speaks volumes about her reputation.

The provincial reactions to “Threshold’s” presence on the Gateway site suggest many Ashlanders still prefer images of William Shakespeare to appear from one end of town to the other to pacify us. Thankfully, OSF provides us a rich array of theatrical art with contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare plays along with the American Revolution series. Hopefully, one day our town will mirror that same openness to new visual artistic voices.

While some people don’t mind being stuck in a 19th-century vision, assuming their education is finished, I choose to exist in our present global world of diversity and not denigrate what at first I don’t understand. Some individuals will try to dumb down and distort with falsehoods their commentary on public art. I prefer to open it up to meaningful debate about art’s purpose and its value to 21st-century discourse.

Richard Newman, professor emeritus, artist and public art commissioner


Time is running out

We should not cede more power to the few who would like to command our local government unless they clearly demonstrate they have the highest good for the most people and do not marginalize any single group of citizens.

When elected individuals cannot truthfully defend their actions, citizens have the legitimate right to recall. Some even feel it is a democratic obligation. Ashland is at a critical juncture; elected commissioners are trying to convince residents that marginalization isn’t happening here. It is! Vote yes to unite Ashland. Time is running out to vote. Tuesday, March 13, is the last day, so through the mail may be too late. Drop off your ballot in the election box behind the Ashland Library.

Wes Brain


Bravo, "Threshold"

Hurray for Susan Zoccola, and her “Threshold”!!

I went to visit the sculpture last weekend. Even though I don’t have any art expertise, I know what I love. “Threshold” speaks loudly about the people of Ashland and of the town itself.

The sculpture effuses energy, enthusiasm and excitement. There is a sense of playfulness, and loftiness.

It evokes a profusion, scrambling, and joining of ideas. It can even represent a stylized grove of trees!

I am thrilled to have this art in our town! Thank you to the committee!

Barbara Tennant


Stay angry, my friends

Scott. Alyssa. Martin. Nicholas. Aaron. Jaime. Christopher. Luke. Cara. Gina. Joaquin. Alaina. Meadow. Helena. Alex. Carmen. Peter. These are the names of the seventeen people — fourteen students and three faculty members — who died in a mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

When a mass shooting hits the breaking news, we gather as a nation — over social media, at memorial vigils, in the halls of Congress and the White House — and offer the victims and their families our “thoughts and prayers.” And then life goes on — until the next shooting.

This time citizens, especially young students, are angry. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was shot nine times in the slaughter at her high school, told President Trump that he is “pissed.” He displayed, I would suggest, in Christian terms, “righteous anger.”

In 2002, smoking was banned in public places because people got angry about having to smell and inhale other people's smoke in restaurants and public transportation areas. The large tobacco industry lobby gradually lost its influence in the halls of Congress and got caught in its lies about smoking and health.

So, let’s “stay angry, my friends” about the availability of semi-automatic guns whose only purpose is to kill large numbers of people. Anger is the emotion that may just move us to protect the common good and rid us of the “next shooting.”

Tom Buechele