Louisville has many beautiful sculptures, murals, and memorials throughout the metro region. From Enid Yandel’s Hogan’s Fountain to the King Louis XVI statue that was commissioned by King Louis’ daughter, it is a magnificent collection that is available free to the citizens of Louisville without having to go to a museum or observe in a book.
These designs convey in an artistic format Louisville’s history, such as the Lincoln sculpture on the waterfront commemorating his visit to the city in 1841. Each work of art was erected during a specific time that had its own cultural values. Society, though, has continued to change and evolve in a more progressive manner and these sculptures and memorials are now being judged by today’s morals and standards. This has led some to feel that several of our city’s public artworks are ‘politically incorrect’ and thus should be removed from public spaces. This would be done regardless of the important civic achievements by the person being depicted that have benefitted the entire community. This view suggests that if a public work of art is in any way connected to a previous activity that is now deemed offensive, then that work of art should be removed from public view.
Sculptures that represent hate and violence, such as the Confederate and George Prentice monuments should certainly be removed. However, virtually all the rest of the city’s public art does not symbolize such heinous parts of our history.
The John B. Castleman statue best demonstrates this distinction. The sculpture depicts Castleman during his later years, in equestrian attire and riding a Saddlebred horse. Some have interpreted this statue as being a ‘Confederate’ monument even though there are no military references on the actual sculpture. The attached plaque notes simply his military service. And, it should be noted, that after the Civil War, Castleman became active in local military service, ultimately becoming a Brigadier General in the Unites States Army.
However, even though this statue celebrates Castleman’s numerous civic contributions such as serving as the first Olmsted Parks president and founding the Saddlebred Horse Association, his three-year service in the Confederate army has overwhelmed his decades of improving Louisville for all residents of the city.
He also prevented several lynching’s of African Americans in the city, advocated for better recreational facilities for the minority population, made his military command salute black officers, and was praised posthumously for keeping the Olmsted parks integrated by African American leaders. Castleman’s history has been distorted and misrepresented in a manner that is unfair, misleading, and biased.
In a city that has embraced Restorative Justice it would seem ethically and intellectually dishonest and disingenuous to besmirch the character of a man who was restored to citizenship following 3 years (age 19 to 22) serving in the Confederacy and proceeded to live 53 years of an exemplary life on behalf of his State and Nation.
It is with this as a background that the ‘Friends of Louisville’s Public Art’ (FOLPA) is being established to provide the proper historical and artistic context for these now threatened civic sculptures and memorials.
FOLPA has the following goals:
1. Promulgate correct historical data for public art
2. Assist in the restoration of public art
3. Provide appropriate input into the status of future public art decisions
The Friends of Louisville Public Art (FOLPA) is a non-profit civic organization that is open to all who share these same goals.
To assist in protecting of these monuments, financial donations are encouraged as follows:
Hogan’s Fountain: $50
Clark – Speed $100
King Louis XVI $500
Lincoln Above $1,000
Contributions are urgently requested now in order to protect the John B. Castleman statue from being removed by biased and misleading tactics. Mail your check payable to ‘Friends of Louisville Public Art’, P O Box 4462, Louisville, Kentucky, 40204, or click on the Go-Fund-Me webpage at https://www.gofundme.com/friends-of-louisville-public-art
To find our Facebook page, in the FB search window, type FOLPA then click on the Louisville, Ky., FOLPA.
Thank you for supporting civic art in Louisville, Kentucky.
- william cook
- Nejat Egilmez
- John Chilton
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