Alachua County Announces Winning Concept for West Lawn Art
Press release from Alachua County
The County Commission, at their October 13, 2020 Regular Meeting, unanimously selected Heidi Stein’s concept for the West Lawn Art at the County Administration Building.
The site formerly displayed a Confederate soldier statue for more than 100 years. The placement of the statue became a divisive issue in the community. The County Commission voted to return the statue to the Daughters of the Confederacy, who originally donated the statue to the County in 1904. They also voted that new artwork be constructed at the current location that “reflects the shared values and aspirations of the community and should not honor a person, historical event or a political figure.” The Confederate soldier statue was peacefully relocated in 2017.
The first Call to Artists for this project resulted in no submittals. The Commission increased the budget for a second Call to Artists, but chose to reject all submittals and hold a contest to allow citizens to submit their concept for the third Call to Artists scope. More than 70 ideas were submitted. “The Gainesville Megaphone – a place to amplify aspirations and truly listen to the community” was the winning concept, and a $1,000 award was given to Heidi Stein from the project budget for her winning concept.
“I am so thrilled to have my idea chosen,” stated Heidi Stein. “I got so attached to the idea; it felt like it fit the project on so many levels. I wanted to help heal some of the hurt associated with the past, but also wanted something that everyone can relate to. I love how a megaphone amplifies voices. I recommended an oversized megaphone you could climb into and hear the [Alachua County] community. It made me so excited to hear Commissioner Ken Cornell, as a public servant, relate to this, saying that’s what he tries to do… listen to the community and amplify their voices.”
“The Board of County Commissioners unanimously agreed that the concept of our citizens having a voice and being heard on the lawn of their County government was the ideal message to relay through this artwork,” reported Alachua County Assistant County Manager/Chief of Staff Gina Peebles. “The Call to Artists for artwork using ‘The Gainesville Megaphone’ as its inspiration is being finalized and will be available through Codaworx.”
I was hoping that they would pick something to honor the rich history of the Timucua Native Americans who called Alachua County their home for hundreds and hundreds of years before the white man took it over, which was only very recently in the grand scheme of things. What do we have to replace the ghastly Confederate statue? What looks almost like a teepee turned on its side, for white people to do – looking at the pictures – ‘white people things’ inside. I see now (painfully) that I should have submitted my idea of an artfully-decorated Native American hut or teepee such as would have been found here before the land was conquered and the Native Americans were mostly murdered.
Smart move. A giant easy to hit trash bin for the homeless people and late night drunks to toss their stuff in.
Looks like the city and county commissions won’t have to look for someone, I mean something, to blow now.
This “megaphone” will never be representative of the artist’s intent of “a place to amplify aspirations and truly listen to the community” as long as current leadership is in place. Cornell and Poe will make sure of that.