Rather, they are intrigued by representing Eisenhower as a young man. At the National Archives event, they displayed a photograph of Eisenhower, apparently taken in 1904 while the teenager was camping with friends along the Smoky Hill River. The future president, with a luxurious head of hair, is seen wearing grubby overalls and sitting at a picnic table with his legs splayed out in front of him.
“The barefoot boy from Kansas,” said Robert Wilson, “became very compelling” as the two sought a way to capture Eisenhower’s personality. In response to concerns that this approach leaves out his military and presidential career, the two artists said they are considering including carved panels, reminiscent of the frieze on the Parthenon, that would address those aspects of his career.
(The Washington Post) - The Washington Post
No final decisions have been made about the statue or the carved panels.
The focus on modesty is among the general concerns raised by audience members at the National Archives panel. Justin Shubow, secretary of the board of the National Civic Art Society, which last spring held an independent competition to solicit more traditional ideas for the memorial, quoted one of Gehry’s philosophical statements about design: “Life is chaotic, dangerous and surprising. Buildings should reflect that.”
Shubow says that philosophy should disqualify Gehry from designing a memorial to a man of Eisenhower’s accomplishment and seriousness.
“A life-size sculpture of a barefoot boy — if that’s how we want to memorialize Eisenhower, that’s a travesty,” Shubow said. Other members of the audience accused Gehry of designing a “postmodern” memorial that doesn’t fit with other memorials and architecture in Washington. One questioner called the design “the emperor’s new clothes.”
In a brief interview, Gehry said that he has heard the family’s concerns and is working to address them. He also cited the enthusiastic approval of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in a Sept. 22 letter sent to the National Park Service, which will own and care for the memorial.
At the National Capital Planning Commission hearing, Carl W. Reddel, director of the memorial commission, praised the Los Angeles-based Gehry and his team for being flexible and responsive to concerns about the design. Since January, when an earlier version of the design was unveiled, the size of the main tapestry has been reduced, and two smaller tapestries have been rotated 90 degrees to keep sight lines open along Maryland Avenue and create a more contained, theatrical, boxlike space framing the memorial. More green elements, including a grass-covered allée through the middle of the site, have been included.
But Reddel acknowledged that the memorial commission is moving quickly, which may be rattling a town that likes to take decades considering additions to its monumental core. His commission is racing to meet an Oct. 28 deadline to reserve a place on the NCPC’s Dec. 1 meeting agenda, at which it hopes to gain preliminary design approval. The current schedule calls for breaking ground in late fall 2012 and opening on Memorial Day in 2015.