Letters To The Editor


August 18, 2006

Statue gives plaza identity of its own

The Sun's editorial "Going, going ... " (Aug. 14) again misses the point in attempting to revive criticism of the siting of the Male/Female statue by Jonathan Borofsky in Penn Station Plaza.

The editors underestimate what an iconic sculpture lends to an otherwise drab cityscape.

The sculpture is comprised of interlocking male and female cut-outs of brushed stainless steel. The shiny figure peers out across the Jones Falls Valley lending different visual effects to a variety of panoramas of Central Baltimore.

The editorial board seems concerned that a "fairly magnificent station" is overshadowed by the "burnished, late-industrial, electronic piece of manipulated metal."

But rather than connect the revival of Baltimore to the striking sculpture that blends the iconic style of Russian constructivist posters with the playfulness of comic strip figures, The Sun lends ammunition to a few loudmouth critics who object to the placement of the sculpture.

Those of us in the silent majority alluded to by Peter Doo, an architect and board member of the Municipal Art Society cited in the editorial, recognize that the sculpture's placement perfectly symbolizes Baltimore's rapid re-invention of itself as a savvy urban environment, combining post-industrial facilities with sleek modern architecture.

The new urban fabric, which may also be seen in the Eddie Brown Center at the Maryland Institute College of Art across the valley from Male/Female, is bringing homeowners and businesses back to downtown.

OK, yes, it is difficult to take a photograph of Penn Station without seeing the sculpture waving happily to commuters, motorists and pedestrians.

And, no, Penn Station Plaza can no longer be used as a generic substitute for train stations in other cities. But why should it serve that role?

The sculpture gives the plaza and the city a unique identity.

Cynthia Sanders


The writer is counsel for the Municipal Art Society.

Massive, kitschy art assaults our senses

Thank you for reviving the controversy over the Male/ Female sculpture (Going, going ... ," editorial, Aug. 14).

Architect Peter Doo is quite wrong about Baltimore needing an education in modern art.

Many of us who appreciate modern art find this piece neither artful nor properly installed. Recall that there was no public outcry when the city installed "Red Buoyant," the beautiful red-orange steel sculpture at the Inner Harbor.

Why? Because it's a beautiful work of art appropriately installed.

Male/Female is kitsch art meant to assault the senses on a massive scale. But the shock value of a work does not justify it as art.

Moreover, it distracts one's attention from the beautiful Penn Station building so completely that the building might as well be invisible.

Like a horrible accident, one can not look away from the sculpture.

One would think that an architect would be keenly aware of this sculpture's gross misplacement.

Bob Marino


Lebanon's truce is only temporary

The Sun's reservations about the validity and permanence of the cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel are well-founded ("An imperfect cease-fire," editorial, Aug. 15).

Already the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has announced that he will not disarm as the agreement requires.

Terrorists do not honor agreements or abide by resolutions, no matter what their source.

The truce is temporary and will only result in future warfare when more lethal weapons are available from Hezbollah's sponsor, Iran.

That is why it is critical that the nuclear program of Iran, which is obviously designed to produce an atomic bomb, be halted - whether by sanctions or by force.

Nelson Marans

Silver Spring

Media doesn't know rules of new warfare

Sunday's Sun carried the article "U.S. is slow to act on lessons of new warfare" (Aug. 13).

The truth is that the U.S. military is perfectly capable of dealing with insurgency-type warfare. It is the media that cannot, or will not, deal with it on an honest basis.

When a terrorist uses his own people as human shields, and some are killed, the deaths are on his head. Period.

Until the free world media accepts that fact, there is no hope for Western Civilization.

Ted Hartka


Judicial oversight safeguards rights

The writer of the letter "Does anyone still object to wiretaps" (Aug. 15) totally misses the point in rejecting "grousing and protesting over revelations about the government's eavesdropping on international telephone calls."

People who value our constitutional protections of liberty objected to President Bush's wiretaps because they violate the principle that the judicial branch should approve any search, including electronic surveillance.

Such checks and balances are fundamental to our system of protecting the individual against government's powers.

The kind of police and intelligence work that led to the arrests in Britain can continue, with judicial oversight.

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