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Letter to the Editor: First They Came for the Dogs, Then They Came for the Art?

One Albany Patch reader has strong views about a recent letter outlining plans for the waterfront.

[Editor's Note: Albany Patch would love your 300-word letters to the editor.]

Albany residents who love the statues at the Albany Bulb may be startled by this excerpt from a Feb. 10, 2011, letter to East Bay Regional Park District board member Whitney Dotson:

"Toward that end, we are pleased to report that the Waterfront Committee is in the process of tackling several issues of concern, i.e., dogs and pets, homeless encampments, driftwood sculptures and art, and exposed rebar dangers."

Ironically, Osha Neumann's "big lady" driftwood sculpture is on the City of Albany website. The nearby dragon-rider, thin man, artist, fisherman, samurai and dog are no less wonderful. 

Neo Serafimidis March 24, 2011 at 04:43 PM
As authoritarians from Stalinists to fascists to de-funders of the National Endowment for the Arts, will tell you, art is dangerous, much more dangerous than exposed rebar, and certainly a "cause for concern."
Caryl O'Keefe March 24, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Context is needed to understand the quotation from the City of Albany Waterfront Committee's (WFC) letter to Park District representative Whitney Dotson. The "end" in "Towards that end" refers to Measure WW grant funds which Albany might request to take one or more steps identified by the State as pre-requisites before the State would accept the Bulb as another waterfront land donation from the City of Albany. (Reminder, the Bulb is the 30+ acre land mass WEST of the Neck. Albany already donated the NEck & Plateau; the Beach belongs to the State also.) State park rules, for the type of park land the Bulb would become if donated, protect habitat by prohibiting dogs, art, encampments, and safety hazards. All prevalent on the Bulb, with substantial political as well as financial costs for removal. Donating the Bulb to the State - or not - requires thoughtful and nonpolitical debate. I agree with Mary, the driftwood art we would lose by donating is amazing. The money we would pay to give away the Bulb is amazing too, with costs likely far greater than any grant Albany might get. Link to the last WFC agenda with a link to the letter to Dotson embedded: http://www.albanyca.org/index.aspx?recordid=3926&page=330
Skip Moore March 25, 2011 at 03:54 PM
I just searched "Albany Bulb" on the photo sharing site, Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com ), and came up with 12,944 photos. Most have to do with the organic, environmental art, as interpreted by photographic artists, tourists and archivists, and the unique perspective the peninsula offers. (Check it out - there are some really cool interpretations.) I suggest that this is indicative of the significance citizens place on the Bulb. It would be a travesty to the highest degree if the State were to sanitize this unique environment.
Doug Donaldson March 26, 2011 at 05:13 PM
I have added a few photos from my files of Bulb Art I have photographed over the past few years I think installation art is now an important part of the history of the Bulb, something that most people fail to realize is a unique and special resource -- it is one of those things that will not be missed until it is gone! I have little faith in the collective imaginations of our Waterfront Committee members or of the EBRPD Board to do something great with the Bulb. Due to lack of funding, as Caryl points out, it will probably remain unorganized open space for years. And for me the "do nothing" option is preferable to the Eastshore State Park Plan scheme - as I understand it. However, I see great potential there . I am reminded of the waterfront paths and art installations I viewed a few years ago in Reykjavik, Iceland. There were several miles of pathways along the water with art installations stationed every few hundred yards - some monumental, some humourous, some reflecting history, some reflecting geography, some beautiful, some puzzling, and all interesting. We could do that here! The Albany Bulb could be a great outdoor art museum/sculputure walk and public place. With one or two iconic sculptures as anchors, large enough to be visible from afar, it would draw thousands of people to the waterfront, Bay Trail and to Albany. It would add a whole new dimension to the Eastshore State Park and broaden the Park's vision and appeal to a even wider audience.

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