The Walker Art Center needed to redress the situation it created with the scaffold sculpture, but how can an artist and arts administrators agree to be party to a public burning of art? (“‘Scaffold’ sculpture to be dismantled, then burned,” June 1.) They considered it art yesterday, but tomorrow it goes up in flames? In one cultural setting, this might make things better, but the historical resonance in another cultural setting makes a bad situation even worse.
Kip Wennerlund, Minneapolis
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So, we are burning art for ideological reasons in America now. To paraphrase Heinrich Heine: Where they burn art, they will also burn people in the end.
D. Morgan MacBain, St. Paul
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The dispute about the new artwork in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden raises some questions. Is it not a totalitarian, antidemocratic impulse to suppress (burn) an artwork that one finds offensive? Who defends the First Amendment freedom of speech and liberty of artistic expression when a leading art museum like the Walker won’t do it for an artist it chose to display? Is our important arts community speaking out to defend its right not to be censored?
When does any group gain possession of a particular image (the scaffold/gallows has a long history across many cultures) and therefore the right to decide how, when and where it is displayed, and whether or not the rest of us can experience it? And to what group will the Walker next give veto power over the art that it will display and permit the rest of us to see? And how is healing and reconciliation promoted by suppressing other people’s opportunity to view, experience and discuss a work of art? TPT will soon be broadcasting Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War,” a work that will undoubtedly provoke painful, traumatic memories for many who actually lived it, both here and in Vietnam: Should it therefore also be suppressed?
George Muellner, Plymouth
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The large lead photograph on the cover of Thursday’s Star Tribune features Walker executive director Olga Viso extending her hand and reaching out to Dakota elder Sheldon Wolfchild in a gesture of gentle physical support. For people who have been asking in disbelief how Viso could have thought Sam Durant’s “Scaffold” was suitable for the new Sculpture Garden, and how she and Durant could have made this decision with absolutely no dialogue with the Dakota community, this image offers a little insight. The troubling, very tired and marginalizing narrative of powerful, privileged people heroically helping Native Americans remains. So after all of the protests, all of the statements and all of the meetings, the Star Tribune selects an image that completely reinforces racism — powerful privileged person assists Native American person.
Julie Risser, Edina
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I’m writing in response to the June 1 letter regarding the Walker sculpture controversy. The headline says that “Complaints seem to be based on an incomplete grasp of history,” and the writer states that “it all started when a young Dakota hunting party … killed five settlers.”
The writer is also guilty of having an incomplete grasp of history.
Historians generally agree that the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 was the culmination of years of repeated treaty violations by the U.S. government, late annuity payments and unfair trading practices that caused persistent hunger and other life-threatening hardships among tribal members.
Out of desperation, the council of the Dakota decided to drive white settlers from the area. While I don’t condone what they did, or the government’s response, these events are but another example of desperate people driven to desperate acts.
Perry Schwartz, Minnetonka
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The Walker should consider an exhibit titled “American Atrocities.” This would include our histories of lynching, slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, domestic terrorism, Japanese internment, the murder of minority innocents and, of course, the forced annihilation and massacre of Native Americans.
Linda E. Rossman, St. Paul
PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT
If Trump is sincere about renegotiation …
President Trump, I truly hope your comment about renegotiating the Paris Climate Agreement in a manner that is acceptable to you and our United Nations friends is true. As I understand it, you have about three years to accomplish that task.
Barring that possibility, I believe you have just:
1) minimized the worldview of the U.S., as well as yourself; 2) taken the short-term view of business profits instead of the long-term view of sustainability; and 3) used NERA projections as facts in making your decision when you’ve never accepted other groups’/agencies’ projections in other matters. This is hypocritical.
Please do your best to renegotiate the PCA with our partners around the world. Anything less and I’d bet on a four-year term for you and your administration.
Scott Young, Zimmerman, Minn.
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President Trump is showing himself to be intent on heedlessly reversing singular achievements of the Obama administration. Trump seems driven by animus to undo whatever it is that citizens cheered in the previous administration. He does so without any apparent grasp of the consequences or implications of his actions, here at home or abroad. Trump claims to be on track to “make America great again,” but I see no evidence of constructive or forward-thinking policy initiatives. I am deeply troubled.
Julia Lofness, Minnetonka
The necessary changes
There is a very simple solution to the frequent nonsense at the Minnesota Legislature each year (“The circus continues at the State Capitol,” editorial, June 1).
If the work in the House and the Senate isn’t done by the end-of-session deadline, then all of our elected officials must go in to a special session at no pay and must stay at it until the work is complete.
It’s a great idea that will never be implemented because it makes too much sense.
Michael P. Maguire, Elk River
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Since the elected people in a two-party system, with a Legislature of two houses and an executive office of one person, cannot perform their functions in a straightforward manner, it is time to move to a unicameral Legislature. That would be the start of solving the problem by getting the political game out of the equation. Any questions?
Jo Brinda, Crystal
Still a long way to go
I noted with interest that in the first paragraph of the May 31 article “Kicking around a 30-minute recess” the girls are “making believe they’re fairies” and the boys are “crossing home plate again and again.” The Star Tribune is continuing to perpetuate the very gender biases our educational system is trying to avoid. I am sure it is true that girls were making believe they were fairies and the boys were playing baseball, but were no boys engaging in make believe and no girls engaging in competitive physical activities? Journalists, you can and should do better.
David Oltmans, Minneapolis
TRUMP AND TWITTER
The President tweeted covfefe
It’s driving everyone fefe
Now they’re discussin’
Is it code to the Russians?
Or something even more creepe?
Randall Bachman, Afton