Lost in the controversy Madam Stella Darby’s shiny new statue has (predictably) stirred in these pages over the last week is the quality of the artwork itself. That’s a shame.

Pendleton has always been rich with creativity and skill and we should be proud of our local artists. So I’d like to take this modest amount of someone else’s ink to congratulate Randy Gundlach on a remarkable job. I was a student of his in high school and have stayed acquainted with his work over the years since. This must be his most magnificent piece to date and he deserves recognition for achieving such an interesting piece while maintaining a realism that must have been extremely difficult working off only one nearly century-old photo.

Several of the folks around town that I have talked to agree that it is the finest of the many public artworks that have been displayed over the last couple years. Bravo!

As for those concerned with the moral implications of erecting a statue of a former brothel owner, I can only offer this: I doubt most Pendletonians are aware that we have a statue by one of the 20th century’s greatest American sculptors — Alexander Phimister Proctor — nor do many know the story of the man his work depicts.

In the words of the enigmatic British artist Banksy:

“If you want someone to be ignored then build a life-size bronze statue of them and stick it in the middle of town. It doesn’t matter how great you were, it’ll always take an unfunny drunk with climbing skills to make people notice you.”

Peter Walters


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