Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Bust for Harvey Milk 1: Press

A sculpture competition for a bust memorializing the gay martyr Harvey Milk opened up shop in City Hall on Thursday.

On the Van Ness side of the building, there are models of three proposed designs, and the public is encouraged to make comments about the different pieces. The sculpture model above is by Bruce Wolfe (click here) and the one below is credited to the Daub Firmin Hendrickson Sculpture Group, LLC (click here).

Whether the selection panel of Jeannene Pryzyblysky, Dugald Stermer (SF Arts Commissioners), Jewelle Gomez (Library Commissioner), Gary Nathan (Publisher of "Spectrum," a gay rag), or Dan Nicoletta (Friend of Harvey and the driving force behind the memorial), actually listens to the public is another story.

At noon there was a dog-and-pony show for the press that was attended by a number of old gay politicos, including Harry Britt, the rather inadequate replacement for Milk as Supervisor after his assassination.

Mayor Gavin Newsom started the proceedings by checking out the sculpture model by Cedric Wentworth (click here), though another scandal was brewing over his head.

It seems that the Police Department has not been bothering doing their job again, this time in the case of a group of Yale students who were beaten up by a group of local wealthy thugs over New Year's Eve in San Francisco (click here for an SFist wrap-up). On top of that, there were allegations of the epithet "fag" being thrown around by the bashers.

The freelance photographer Rink, above, who has been documenting the gay scene in San Francisco for over 30 years, pointed out some of the irony in the presentations.

Tom Horn, above, the wealthy, reactionary publisher of the Bay Area Reporter gay weekly, would never have been in agreement with Harvey's leftist politics.

The lesbian California State Senator Carole Migden droned on about being a great Friend of Harvey but in truth he loathed her (click here for a funny article that pretty much sums her up, via Beth Spotswood)... he would probably be horrified by the politics of his current successor, Supervisor Befan Dufty.

Milk would probably have been far more comfortable with the current heterosexual Supervisors who try to fight for the powerless, Daly and Mirkarimi, who were both present but didn't speak.

The best presentations were by Anne Kronenberg, Milk's legislative aide in the 1970s, who seems to be aging well...

...and Stuart Milk, Harvey's gay nephew who had flown in from Florida for the event.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano actually was a Friend of Harvey and gave a fiery speech insisting that "homophobia" was still all around us.

The two main drivers behind the Milk City Hall Memorial Committee are Dan Nicoletta and Joey Cain, above. They have been trying to raise the approximately $100,000 for the sculpture from individuals (click here to check out their website), which seems appropriate.

Harvey Milk didn't live long enough to become a corrupt, thuggish old politician like Willie Brown, Jr., who had an expensive bust installed by wealthy "Friends of Willie Brown, Jr." within a few years of his departure from City Hall.


Anonymous said...

apropos of only the comment on whether the selection panel "actually listens to the public", not any of the other more interesting subject matter in this blog entry, usually better that art decisions are made by strong smart adventurous people with convictions, than a mish mash of opinions. (seen the california quarter design selection?)

my bias being my own increasing crankiness on any "design by committee" dynamics, which unfailingly result in a less effective outcome, and generally satisfies no one. i'd rather risk some dreadful decisions and/or ruffle some feathers.

thanks for all this art and politics and peace march reportage.


Anonymous said...

I guess Bob Ross is dead? Wasn’t Tom Horn lawyer to one of Bob Ross' entities. So Tom Horn owns BAR?

Nostalgic, but creepy. Yeah, way creepy.

Civic Center said...

Yes, Bob Ross died a couple of years ago, and there was a memorial gathering at the Herbst Theatre where people tried to say nice things about the son-of-a-bitch with varying degrees of success.

Anonymous said...

i've never understood the idealization of Harvey Milk -- he certainly was ahead of his time, but I don't see how he's as progressive as people seem to think he is. He was a business owner that pretty much started the mass exodus of what we would call guppies today from the more edgy (and previous center of the gay community) Polk neighborhood. The polk neighborhood as such didn't survive the AIDS epidemic as well as the Castro -- because the Castro was considerably wealthier and farther removed from the "street" elements of the Polk. It was the beginning of the segregation into the educated passable urban gays from the poorer urban edgier fetish gays that couldn't quite "pass." I'm sure Milk would have gone on to do wonderful things, but whether he would considered progressive in our time -- we are only second guessing.

As I use to say when people complained about "saving the Castro" -- from what, it's appeal as always been its quaintness and relative upscale nature.

Anonymous said...

The sculptures in the photos are mis-attributed. The one viewed by the mayor, and in the background in the photos of the speakers, is by Eugene Daub, Rob Firmin & Jonah Hendrickson. Cedric Wentworth did the one in dark bronze mounted on an open box.