Plans for an Ohio Holocaust memorial, designed by world-reknown architect Daniel Libeskind, may have hit a snag
- The Cleveland Plain Dealer 5/11/13
Time decides whether any memorial is memorable
- The Columbus Dispatch 5/12/13
Committee picks Libeskind design for Holocaust memorial despite lawsuit concerns
-The Columbus Dispatch 5/7/13
Committee Recommends NY Artist for Statehouse Holocaust Memorial
- The Hannah Report 5/6/13
A selection committee quickly agreed Monday to recommend Daniel Libeskind of New York as the artist for the proposed Holocaust Memorial on the Statehouse grounds.
Libeskind proposed a stone path lined with inscribed stone walls, leading up to a brushed stainless steel monolith in the shape of a book.
A fissure runs up the path and through the book, the center of which will also be carved out in the shape of the Star of David. A survivor's narrative detailing experiences in a Nazi concentration camp would be etched on the book. The committee, which includes representatives of state agencies, arts groups, Jewish communities and others, reached the three-fourths majority consensus required for a selection Monday afternoon, after hearing proposals from three finalists earlier in the day. Jaume Plensa of Chicago and Ann Hamilton of Columbus also presented as finalists Monday. Libeskind emerged as the favorite soon after discussion began.
"It seems to me the Libeskind [proposal] tells the world what happened in a way that is easily grasped," said committee member Brad Kastan, managing director of the JP Morgan Securities and Board Foundation.
Other members also cited its ability to more easily incorporate an educational message than the other proposals, and the artist's stated flexibility in making sure the inscribed texts meet the committee's goals for the monument, including honoring soldiers who liberated Nazi labor camps.
The committee had agreed beforehand to require 75 percent of members present to approve of a final recommendation, and Libeskind secured 12 of 16 votes. Hamilton received two votes, one of them from Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board Chairman Richard Finan, a former Senate president. Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) cast the sole vote for Plensa. One member, William Schmidt, voted "none of the above."
Steve George, special projects director for Gov. John Kasich, was among those voting for Libeskind's proposal. Kasich proposed the idea of a memorial on the Statehouse grounds in 2011 during his first time presiding over the Governor's Annual Holocaust Commemoration ceremony at the Statehouse. (See The Hannah Report, 5/4/11.)
The recommendation of Libeskind next goes to the Capitol Square board's space committee, then to the full board.
Plensa proposed a statute of six bronze leaves, each made of a latticework of letters from alphabets of different world languages, including Hebrew. Hamilton proposed a limestone plinth, with tunnels throughout to amplify a choral composition she wanted to integrate into the piece, with specially pruned sycamore trees and fragments of survivors' narratives embedded in the grounds.
Finan voiced reservations about Libeskind's project during deliberations, worrying about upkeep, the fact that it would be the only lighted memorial on the grounds, and fears that the prominent Star of David would invite lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Other members disagreed that the Star of David serves as a religious symbol. Sarah Weiss, executive director of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, said the star historically did not serve as a religious symbol but is so closely associated with Judaism now because of the Holocaust.
"The way that star is depicted is clearly not representing a religious symbol, it's representing the most egregious outcome of the Nazi era," said Merom Brachman, chairman of the Ohio Ethics Commission.
Finan also noted the full Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board needs to approve the final selection, and he said Hamilton's proposal had the greatest chance of reaching that threshold. However, other members cited worries about the ongoing maintenance in Hamilton's piece, as well as the involvement of technology. She had proposed to incorporate voices from a choral composition and narrative readings of survivor accounts into the automated phone system the Statehouse already employs to let visitors call on their cell phones for pre-recorded information about other monuments around the grounds.
Former Senate President Stanley Aranoff said Libeskind's renown as an artist "in and of itself will be an attraction for people to come to the capitol."
Panel Selects Holocaust Memorial Artist; Finan To Urge Rejection By CSRAB
- Gongwer 5/6/13
The majority of a panel assigned with choosing the artist for a Statehouse Holocaust memorial easily chose a winning designer, but the chairman of the Capitol Square Review & Advisory Board said he will urge that body to reject the proposal.
The Holocaust Memorial Artist Selection Committee chose Daniel Libeskind from three artist finalists who presented their proposals throughout the day Monday, coming to their conclusion with just one vote and a discussion that focused almost entirely on the winner. His proposal received 12 votes of 16.
However, CSRAB Chairman Richard Finan, who co-chaired the artist selection committee, said he thinks the project is a “lawsuit waiting to happen” because it depicts a hexagram, more commonly thought of as a Star of David.
The memorial’s centerpiece would be an 18-foot tall, two-piece structure of brushed stainless steel. As part of the narrow divide between the two vertical rectangles would be a cut out in the shape of a hexagram. The remaining metal would be inscribed with the story of one survivor who was at Auschwitz and a number of other camps before the liberators arrived to secure his freedom.
The project would also feature a 40-foot limestone entrance path including a low wall inscribed with the quote: “If you save one life, it is as if you’ve saved the world.” Stone benches would also line the path up to the stainless steel structures, and recessed linear lighting and floor spotlights would illuminate the piece at night, Mr. Libeskind said.
The proposal now has to go before the Site Selection Committee and then to CSRAB for approval.
“I think for one thing, the Star of David on it is going to be an issue with Cap Square board, and I think it’s going to be an issue – maybe, maybe not – with the ACLU,” Mr. Finan said in an interview. “The ACLU has warned us about putting the star up on the Christmas trees at Christmas time and said they’ll sue us if we do that, so we quit putting a star on the Christmas tree.”
He said he would urge members of CSRAB to reject the proposal, which he also said would probably be a “nightmare” to take care of.
“I don’t like it. It just stands out like a sore thumb,” he said about the materials compared to other structures on Capitol Square, adding it would be the only memorial on the Statehouse grounds to be lit at night. “I think it’s going to be a problem.”
If CSRAB rejects the proposal, he said it would be “back to the drawing board” and the process would start over.
Committee Member Brad Kastan, managing director of the JP Morgan Securities and Board Foundation, was joined by other members in maintaining that the star is a symbol not a reference to religion. He referenced the holocaust memorial in Washington D.C., which is also placed on government land.
Mr. Libeskind told the panel he, too, deliberated on whether the star was a religious symbol and concluded in discussions with other experts that, in the memorial’s instance, it is a reference to the star used by the Nazis to label Jews. He said one cannot separate the holocaust from the star.
Member Merom Brachman, chairman of the Ohio Ethics Commission, agreed the star is not depicted as a religious symbol.
“It’s representing the most egregious outcome of that Nazi era, and it’s representative of that all around the world, unfortunately,” he said, adding the inscriptions are not religious. “I think we’re pretty far from religious representation.”
Panel member William Schmidt told the artist he thinks it would be better suited for Temple Israel rather than the Statehouse. He said it highlights the 6 million Jews killed in the holocaust but ignores the 6 million gentiles also slain. Mr. Schmidt opted not to vote for any of the three projects.
Co-chairwoman Ginger Warner and members Abigail Wexner and Beth Wain Brandon said they thought Mr. Libeskind’s project provided the greatest educational opportunity of the three presentations because of the proposed inscription.
Former Ohio Senate President Stanley Aronoff said he thinks the piece could also attract donations and people to the Capitol because Mr. Libeskind is a world-renowned artist. He built the Jewish Museum in Berlin where he established his studio before moving it to New York.
The Holocaust and Liberators Memorial is planned to be installed in the southwest portion of the Statehouse grounds by the middle of next year. Mr. Libeskind did not provide a budget for the proposal but said it would fit within the $2 million maximum requested by the panel.
The proposal that received Mr. Finan’s vote and support from member Susan Ewing was by Ohioan Ann Hamilton. She proposed the creation of a memorial plinth composed of narrow layers of Ohio limestone that would have holes engineered into it to allow for the amplification of sound. A telephone system was proposed to allow visitors to call a number, place their phone in a hole in the plinth and have a custom-composed anthem amplified by the structure.
Joining the plinth would have been a grove of 36 sycamore trees shaped in the European technique of pollarding. The ground would be covered in short inscriptions in metal that would be open to allow grass or planting to grow up through them, Ms. Hamilton said.
Mr. Finan said the project was the most in keeping with the style of the Statehouse and was the only one with a chance of receiving approval by CSRAB.
Other members maintained it was too complex, had too many undetermined elements and could involve considerable upkeep or cause damage to the underlying parking garage.
Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s proposal depicted six fallen leaves composed with each leaf standing on its point and the stems connected at the sculpture’s peak. The giant heart-shaped leaves, through which people could walk, were proposed as an open design filled with the letters of eight different languages.
Standing 30 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter, the bronze piece coated with a white patina would have stood on a circle of the same granite used for the rest of the Statehouse walkways. It was proposed to be lit at the base of each leaf to create an illuminated effect at night.
Members had little to say about the proposal in their discussion but maintained that it was not an obvious remembrance for the Holocaust; although, some said jokingly they would like to have the piece in their homes. Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) cast the only supporting vote.
Ohio’s Holocaust Memorial Fight
-The Tablet 2/19/13
- The Columbus Dispatch 2/2/13
Statehouse site chosen for Holocaust memorial
- The Columbus Dispatch 8/16/12
Holocaust Memorial Committee Picks Southwest Side Of Capitol Square To Build
The panel overseeing creation of a proposed Statehouse Holocaust memorial on Tuesday chose the southwest area of the grounds as the site for the project.
During its first meeting, the Capitol Square Review & Advisory Board Statehouse Holocaust Memorial Artist Selection Committee voted 13-1 to pick the location near High and State streets. The decision came after members toured the southeast and southwest portions of the grounds and discussed details about the memorial.
Committee chairman Richard Finan, a former Senate president who also chairs CSRAB, cast the lone vote against the location. He said the site on the southeastern corner of the square near the intersection of Third and State streets would have offered greater visibility due to a higher volume of traffic at the location.
However, Mr. Finan said making a selection was an important step to move the project forward and let potential artists have a firmer grasp of the setting and surroundings with which they will be working.
"I just felt it was a much more visible site and it had a lot of possibilities and innovative things that could have been done," Mr. Finan said after the meeting.
Ginger Warner, vice chairwoman of the Ohio Arts Council who co-chairs the committee, said after the meeting that nailing down a specific location could help elicit a wider response among interested artists.
In recent months, Gov. John Kasich has championed the creation of a memorial, and the most recent capital appropriations moved the process forward (SB 312).
Another concern raised by selection of the southwestern quadrant is support work that could be required in the Statehouse underground parking garage, Mr. Finan said. The money for the work will have to be appropriated by the General Assembly.
Although details of the project are still being worked out, the Ohio Jewish Communities has estimated cost for the project at $1.5-$2 million, Mr. Finan said. It will be funded through private donations.
Steve George, who represents Gov. Kasich on the panel, said it is important for the memorial to be "harmoniously integrated" into the fabric of the Statehouse grounds.
"It should not stand out like a sore thumb. It should seem timeless," he said.
Ms. Warner, however, said the committee should not impart preconceived notions, which could limit the ability of artists to come up with creative approaches to the project.
Julie Henahan, the executive director for the Ohio Arts Council and a non-voting committee member, said the governor has targeted next spring as the time for the project to break ground. She told the panel that artists submitting work for the project would be narrowed through multiple rounds of a selection process.
Committee Selects Site of Statehouse Holocaust Memorial
-The Hannah Report 8/15/12.
The Holocaust Memorial Artist Selection Committee officially selected Tuesday exactly where the memorial will be placed on Capitol Square. During the committee's first meeting, members left their meeting room in order to tour both suggested sites, then reconvened to make their vote.The result was a decision to place the memorial on the south side of Capitol Square along State Street, across from the Ohio Theatre. The group listed its pros and cons for both areas.Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) Chairman Richard Finan, who also chairs the committee, said he wanted the other suggested site, which would be at the corner of Third and State streets. He noted the amount of vehicle and foot traffic that goes by that area and said the memorial would be more visible from there.The selected site has a drawbacks because of what is underneath the land, the CSRAB parking garage. Finan said that construction of the memorial must now include construction underground to reinforce the land. The chairman explained that the state would be responsible for paying for that construction.
Choosing the memorial's site was the final task for the committee on Tuesday. The meeting started with Finan explaining the objective of the committee, then laying out a timeline of what they hope to accomplish.The committee also agreed that the decisions they make, including which artist they choose, must reach a super majority of 75 percent. Members of the committee emphasized that there are two important steps that they should execute as soon as possible: promote the memorial for artist submissions and determine a process for fundraising.The funds are an important first step because the committee wants to know how much the memorial can cost. A number that several members mentioned, including Stephen George from Gov. John Kasich's office, was $1.5 million to $2 million.
Michael Mercil, professor and sculptor at Ohio State University and the OSU Arts and Memorials Committee, mentioned that it is important to know what they are looking for in a memorial."The more important question for us to decide -- in terms of this scope -- for instance, an educational component is one thing and a museum is another," Mercil said after someone voiced a hope that the memorial would be educational. "So is it a memorial that stands alone as itself an educational component? Is it a memorial and a museum of a certain size, because then we're talking very different budgets."George added his hopes for what he wants the memorial to look like. "I think it should almost be -- in a lot of ways -- really invisible. In the sense that it should be harmoniously integrated into the landscape."
The committee also talked about the type of maintenance work that a memorial might need. That is when co-chair Ginger Warner, Ohio Arts Council vice chair, noted that the "call for entry" that will be used to reach out to artists includes a section for "practical considerations."That section states, "Artwork considered for this memorial must be durable and reasonably maintenance free. Exposure to weathering, potential for damage and public safety must influence the selection of materials, structure, location and method of installation. The use of utilities or mechanical apparatus as a part of or in support of the memorial is discouraged."
In laying out the timeline, Finan said that the committee hopes to see artist submissions and meet the artists by December or January. Finan and Warner both suggested that they could receive submissions from artists around the world who will be interested to take on this project.The governor has said that he hopes that the project would break ground in the Spring 2013 in time for the next Annual Holocaust Commemoration. As of now, the committee hopes the project could be completed by Spring 2014.
- The Columbus Dispatch August 1, 2012
- The Columbus Dispatch July 11, 2012
- The Columbus Dispatch June 13, 2012
- The Columbus Dispatch April 24, 2012