Letters to the editor

Same-sex marriage debate wastes government’s time

I recently read an article regarding President Bush’s position on same-sex marriages. The article (“Bush: Marriage Should Be a Union of Man, Woman” in the July 31 Asheville Citizen-Times) stated that Bush supports marriage only between a man and a woman, and that he feels so strongly about this issue that he supports having marriage legally defined as a union between a man and a woman. There was even a statement in the same article that noted a proposed amendment to the Constitution to read: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.”

The article caused a moment of confusion for me. I had never really considered same-sex marriages, and was astounded that the issue was of such great importance to our citizens and leaders that it warranted possibly changing the Constitution, the very platform that our country of democracy and freedom is based upon. It also amazed me that the religious beliefs of a few could potentially prevent the marriage of any two people in America.

Marriage is a public display of love and commitment between two people. It is an institution that promotes stability and monogamy in our society. And it allows two people to legally join their lives and assets together. Given the benefits of marriage in our society, it amazes me that the American government would seek to deny a legal union between two people based on religious beliefs alone.

The Constitution guarantees us freedom of religion, but due to the religious beliefs of some, the guaranteed pursuit of happiness between two people of the same sex is being limited. What country are we in again?

— Janice A. Sitton

Note to city: Kohlmeyer derivative and third-rate

I’m writing to express my hope that our City Council voted at its formal meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 12 to not help purchase that ridiculously expensive Kohlmeyer sculpture “Conversation Piece #4C.” Ida Kohlmeyer’s name is not widely known and is not even mentioned in college-level, late-20th-century, art-history classes (I have a university degree in fine arts), and there is a reason for this: Her work is overly derivative (see Klee, Hoffman, Aleschensky, tick-tack-toe), and is third-rate.

The Public Art Board’s Ms. Betty Clark, a painter whose own work echoes Kohlmeyer’s, advises us that this sculpture, because it challenges us, is, possibly, art. Ms. Clark hints that this piece is great art because it is “of that caliber.” This reminds me of hearing on the news that “sources close to the president” have disclosed some information (and, therefore, it is the truth).

Ms. Barbara Cary, chair of the Art Board, tells us that when somebody dents the Kohlmeyer piece with a hammer, it can be fixed the way you fix “your Plymouth” [quoted in “Art for Asheville’s Sake,” Xpress July 30]. An undisclosed source informs us that truly great new art is ugly and, therefore, this sculpture might be the work of a genius.

One City Council member thinks its installation will add to Asheville’s prestige as an “arts destination.” I suggest that getting our continually overflowing downtown trash cans — which certainly challenge the viewer — emptied more often will add to our prestige.

Unfortunately, the Public Art Board, regardless of the City Council vote, will go ahead and, with yet more privately raised money, purchase this public-art farce, and soon it will be installed on city property. Carol King, director of the Pack Square Renaissance regime, has, in a similar case, advised us regarding the atrocious (and second-hand) Pack Place electric sign that the rich people who donated the many thousands of dollars to buy it would have their feelings hurt if we did not keep the thing. I dread that Asheville will continue to install bad art because not to do so would hurt rich people’s feelings.

I am going to have my feelings hurt if we as a community — as a nation — do not wake up and start addressing the whole picture: the interconnectedness of art, communities and the Earth’s living ecosystems; the irrelevance of art compared to our present environmental catastrophe; the bulls**t politics of public-art selection versus the cold-blooded politics of the oil and timber corporations. The very fabric of the web of life on our ancient and delicate planet is being destroyed while we sit idly by and watch TV and buy shiny metal trinkets.

If any local site is truly suitable for and harmonious with this sculpture, it is the indoor Playland of the Merrimon Avenue McDonald’s; maybe it could serve as the trash receptacle. This Kohlmeyer thing echoes not the finest sculpture of past centuries. Instead, it resembles a cross between Mr. Potato Head and a jelly roll with sprinkles — or, of course, this sculpture being a two-part challenge, both the potato head and the jelly roll.

An alternate example of public art in this city known for its alternative lifestyles has recently been installed on Biltmore Avenue, on the fence across the street from the Fine Arts Theater. This work is titled “deFence of Mother Earth.” It was created by Buncombe native Nicholas Oteen (with help from the Dandelion Fund and at no cost to the city). It challenges the viewers to wake up and learn about corporate America’s war on the environment, and to stand up against corporations to protect our communities, national forests, clean air and water, Bill of Rights, etc. And, perhaps, to stand up against cultural mediocrity. If you go see it after 6 p.m., you can stand in the shade of “deFence.”

— Ron Ogle

Shelby, can you hear me?

A copy of the Shelby Lynne story from the Xpress Bele Chere guide was sent in, bearing this note to the country singer:

I love you.

Will you be my girlfriend?

On the accompanying copy of the Nikki Talley story from the Xpress Bele Chere guide:

I love you, too, sweetie.

— Matthew Clark

[Ed. Note: Hugs and kisses (XXOO) were, of course, included.]

Developers need red light on green spaces

Regarding your recent article [about 1-26 in Madison County]: In many letters I have written before, I have cited the phenomenon of our local development being seemingly out of control.

The fact is, as your article [“Moving Mountains” cover story, July 16] mentions, those who are boosters for all kinds of development are always going to be better organized than those who object. The end result could be overdevelopment. When it’s all done, and everyone is sorry, it’s too late.

There does not seem to be any watchdog organization looking out for wooded areas — places where people have moved because those woods are there, only to find out that a whole plot is condemned and slated for condos. There is a very profound quality-of-life insult inherent in repeatedly giving deference to greedy developers and their sometimes-quite-nasty projects.

How do we get the idea to take hold that not all the land around here should be sold and cleared for whomever (every bank and investor combination)? Is there a way to designate some land as valuable green space?

I would have to agree that some improvement was necessary for the road in Madison County (I-26), but does that mean a replication of this land-sculpting [and] mountain-moving over and over?

I hate to say it, but the locals who think they don’t want zoning may find they have made a great mistake [once] the reason people have lived here and still move here is all gone.

— Thomas W. Coppola

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