Love it or hate it: The Arc of History

by David Holub

Love it

They called it eyesore, an embarrassment, an abomination. Some said it looked like a croissant or dinosaur excrement or nothing at all. Many said it didn’t represent them or this town.

These are the precise reasons I love the Arc of History and non-representational or abstract art of many kinds.

Does the world need another cowboy on a horse? Or a sculpture of an elk? Because when anyone sees a sculpture of a cowboy on a horse, everyone sees the same unchallenging thing.

Many times people see non-representational art and are left unsatisfied or, worse yet, viscerally angry. Because it doesn’t look like anything. But does everything need to be so obvious, something we’ve seen before, handed to us for thoughtless consumption?

That’s the beauty of the Arc of History. It is evocative. We as viewers, as unique individuals, get to decide what this piece means to us and what it looks like to us, what it reminds us of, where it takes us. On a certain day or in certain light, depending on your mood or a whim, it might look different or mean something different. But those differences belong to each of us and are determined by the openness we arrive with.

No one is going to tell you what the Arc of History means or what it is supposed to be, because it doesn’t inherently mean anything and it doesn’t quantifiably resemble anything. Those meanings and evocations are up to each of us. Sometimes beauty and wonder and mystique take finding.

— David Holub

Hate it

The first time I saw The Arc of History I thought, “What in the bloody hell is that?” Surely, there must have been an error. The sculpture installation guys must have grown confused and instead of placing such a modern abstraction on the lawn of the Smiley Building, they erroneously affixed it to Durango’s most pivotal intersection. Please understand, I dig art and sculpture and the abstract and creative irony, and I’m definitely NOT a fan of the destruction of property. All I’m saying is that I pay attention to brand recognition and to me, a poopish arc of rocks resembling the wormlike creatures from “Tremors” doesn’t really convey the essence of “Historic Durango.”

When some mischievous scallywag put the head of a tyrannosaur on the arc I felt immediate relief. “Oh, thank heavens, it wasn’t finished after all! It’s going to be a DINOSAUR!!!!” But alas, no. The dino head was removed and there the Arc of History remains … minus a few teeth.

No disrespect to Pennsylvania artist Tom Holmes, but perhaps the $28K spent on his sculpture would have been better allocated toward supporting a local Durango sculptor like Miki Harder, or SW Colorado sculptor Veryl Goodnight, or even a regional Four Corners sculptor like Edward J. Fraughton of Utah to create something a bit more culturally, historically and aesthetically relevant. Instead, on my morning commute to town I’m greeted by the random, giant carnivorous Graboid from “Tremors.” Please bring back my T-Rex. Amen.

— Jaime Becktel


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