Look for a vandal with an agenda


September 24, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

A year-old collection of steel men, women and sea creatures will be yanked out of the Inner Harbor next month to make room for another sculpture in a rotating McKeldin Square exhibit. That is, unless the women can't wait and hightail it out of there on their own. It's been a long year for six sculptures created by the unlikely alliance of Yoko Ono's sister and Sparrows Point steelworkers. Long for the women in the sculpture anyway. Somebody keeps bending the female figures - and just the females. (Unless you count a piece of seaweed, but that could have been an accident.) If there's anything worse than an art vandal, it's an antifeminist art vandal, said sculptor Setsuko Ono.

"If someone made some graffiti or distorted the squids or anything, or they distorted the man, I wouldn't react that violently," Ono told me. "It's obvious that it is someone who is sick, who is obsessed about women."

My theory: Beatles fan.

Whatever the motive, the vandalism is particularly upsetting to Ono, a retired World Bank executive who lives in Washington, because it mangles her message.

"It was very important for me, especially, that women are shown as free. I'm reading every day in newspapers how awfully women are treated and repressed in many countries and many cultures, and even ours," she said. "I think people should look at how beautiful women can be when they're free."

Instead, she said, unsuspecting art fans are snapping pictures of something bent into subservience.

"It gives me a lot of pain that people are looking at women bowing, being crushed," she said. "Everybody's taking photos of these women bowing, kowtowing, to the man."

It's not hard to bend the sculptures back into place, something the city has done several times. But each time they're bent, the metal gets weaker and the paint cracks, making the works vulnerable to rust.

Ono tried to get the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts to install surveillance cameras. She even got former Harford County Councilwoman Barbara Risacher, a friend since they were classmates in Tokyo girls' school, to e-mail the mayor and others.

But cameras were not in the budget, especially since the sculptures were only spending a year in the square, said Randi Vega, BOPA's director of cultural affairs.

Where will they be installed next? Vega said it's not clear yet. Maybe best to keep the location mum.

Get ready for an upscale emergency

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency, Gov. Robert Ehrlich, first lady Kendel Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. hopeful Kristen Cox will promote emergency preparedness tomorrow at - where else? - Eddie's of Roland Park.

Every family should have bottled water and canned food on hand in case of emergency. Why not make it Perrier and caviar?

On Eddie's end, the event is ripe with marketing opportunities along the lines of a high-end blue light special. Orange alert? Special on smoked salmon canapes!

MEMA spokeswoman Katie Leahan said Eddie's - the Baltimore County location - was chosen "because it's a local, family-owned supermarket. It was either that or Graul's."

Leahan added: "If they have a really large family, they might want to buy their water in bulk somewhere else."

Again with the gentiles?

Remember last Christmas, when the big political trend was sending official Christmas cards with no mention of Christmas? Now there's a new, church/state-wary way to extend holiday greetings: politicians embrace religion, so long as it's not their own. The Baltimore Jewish Times these days is full of ads with goyim office-seekers - like Ehrlich and Martin O'Malley, both pictured with their families - wishing everybody, "L'shana tova."

Connect the dots

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