Thursday, October 13, 2016

rustbelt meets cornbelt

The title of this journal includes 'rustbelt', but the term has not been mentioned much in the essays. Dublin Ohio, two generations ago was surrounded by cornfields; then the outerbelt highway, I-270 came. Now there is further construction about and on that highway near Dublin, and inside of Dublin. What came to Dublin were golf course communities, and corporate headquarters of multi-storeys.
In the generation before Sam Frantz had a farm, where he hybridized corn. Now there are these hundred or so upright cement cobs, taller than a man. These monuments are similar to the crosses in a military graveyard; O, the opportunity for metaphor. Actually, it is better than described or pictured.

The installation is called, “Field of Corn (with Osage Orange trees)” by Malcolm Cochran, 1994. Dublin Arts Council has been graced with money, and a few of the local corporations donated. In front of trees there is a line of informative bronze plaques. There are two rows of osage orange trees, one existing before the project, and one planted with the project. During the Great Depression that came with the Hoover administration and twelve years of Republican national rule, and was dealt with by Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal millions of osage oranges were planted in the Middle West as windbreaks, and were often used as property lines. In the Plain States these early Depression years were the dust bowl years, and 1936 was a drought year in Ohio also.
Continuing on one of the crossroads is Ballantrae park. Parking on what had been the end of a side street one sees through the driver's window, three giant hares (identifies as rabbits or bunnies) dancing on a hill top. With both the concrete corn and this park (which looks to be an extension of a golf course) the grass was well manicured. Limestone rocks were bunched together, and a very low fence of layers of rock with a top layer of perpendicular stones were part of the landscape of many properties in a great section of Dublin.

Sophie Ryder of Gloucestershire England has sculpted animals, and mythical creatures. Here she has sculpted mad March hares that people see as happy dancing bunnies. Before these came to Ohio, they were seen at The Hague, Netherlands in 2001. If one comes close to the towering metal lupines, one sees tools and other objects embedded. The limestone wall has leprechaun heads, some which squirt water in the summer. In front are ground spouts that also spray.

The first Dublin Art in Public Places project was Ralph Helmick's Leatherlips1990. He sits looking over the Scioto River. This is the third in this essay of really interesting, if not great things to see and experience. There are several smaller pieces of public art about Dublin of diverse style and interest. But these three are large and fun. One thing about public art that is opposite of museum art is that public art can be touched. It is outside and is exposed to the elements, and becomes part of the landscape. A discarded porcelain toilet also fits that description, and some abstract public sculpture is of no greater quality. These three are quality and they add and blend to and with the other scenery in the landscape. The best is this first piece. The limestone slabs fit the slope of the hill. This Wyandot chief in his last years had in translation the name “Long Gray Hair”, and the long, lime walls of trailing, stacked stones fits that description. Next to the sculpture is a terraced theatre which continues the lines. Further fun is one can walk up behind and inside the statue and look out over the scalp.

Chief Leatherlips (as the white men called him) *1732,1810† had been executed by tomahawk nearby. His brother, and other Indians had imposed the sentence.  He was charged with sorcery, in an attempt to cover up politics. In 1794 the Indians lost the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the next year Leatherlips and others signed the Treaty of Greenville giving up most of Ohio. The loss of lands was increasing, and in years to follow, Tecumseh and his brother, the Shawnee Prophet, raised a confederacy of Indians. Leatherlips was not a party.

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