For several months, I was bothered that I’d been unable to convince a group of otherwise sound minds that we should credit Seattle sculptor Louise McDowell on a permanent marker for her work on a bronze bust of legendary Snohomish High School coach Keith Gilbertson Sr. that was commissioned by family and friends and installed at the school.
No artistic credit was necessary, bust committee members told me.
That is just plain wrong. Artists of every genre need and deserve proper recognition for their work. We’re not talking graffiti here!
I discussed this with Sarah Clark-Langager, director of the Western Gallery at my old school, Western Washington University, widely known for its many outdoor sculptures, and where every piece has some type of permanent marker that includes the name of the piece, the artist’s name and donor identification. She considered it unthinkable to display any work without identifying the artist.
McDowell previously sculpted a statue of legendary SHS football coach Dick Armstrong, and that piece, displayed at Snohomish’s Veterans Memorial Stadium, features a plaque with short bio of Armstrong but no mention of the sculptor. I was told that no credit was necessary on that piece, either, and that McDowell was fine with that.
Not so. I contacted McDowell by email, and she responded that she hadn’t been back to see the Armstrong statue since it was dedicated and had no idea that her name appeared nowhere near the work. She also expected some type of acknowledgement with the Gilbertson bust and added that she was prepared to purchase plaques of her own, if need be.
Having relayed all this information to the head of the bust committee, I’m now told McDowell will be identified as the bust sculptor on a legacy plaque to be posted alongside the bust.
Can’t say what will be done about credit for the Armstrong statue, but score one small victory for artistic integrity with the bust and one small step toward getting off the hayseed list.
- A Life Well Played (ransomman.com)