The Sacking of Seaside
Thursday, November 22, 2001
Now that the furor has died down somewhat, it seems a good time to respond to some of the criticism regarding the removal of Snick Farkas'' excellent entry from the November juried show by the Seaside Art Commission ("Culture By Lowest Common Denominator," Nov. 8). Squid made the assumption that the complainer was a visitor. Wrong, friend. Everything else written there was affected by this assumption, but it was neatly expressed in very good prose.
First comment: Colleen Lingenfelter is not an art commissioner, she is a city employee. It was her job as the city staff member assigned to the Commission to follow the orders she was given to do the deed. Not one member of the Seaside Art Commission was asked, nor notified, about this action.
Second comment: The complainer was not a visitor, but an employee. This staunch supporter of public morality threatened the city with a lawsuit for sexual harassment, citing Chapter VII of The Civil Rights Act, and declaring that City Hall was a "hostile environment." City management had no real alternative but to "cave in." It''s probably wasted space at this point to mention that, had the complainer simply asked one of the Art Commission members (or Mrs. Lingenfelter) to have it moved to another location "out of sight," all this hoopla could have been avoided.
Third comment: This action negated the stated mission of the Art Commission, which is to gather and display ALL those things which define the arts and represent the world''s diverse cultures--in short, to bring the world to the citizens of Seaside. So much for over 30 years of hard work by a dedicated body of civic-minded volunteers. It also denied one of the Central Coast''s finest artists his civil rights (and First Amendment rights).
The bottom line is that the building is not just a gallery, it is also the City Hall. As such, it is subject to the provisions of the Civil Rights Act, because the public (and city employees) must be there physically to conduct business. This means that anyone could, with no other reason but simple malice, declare the place a hostile environment--and claim it was some form of harassment. The Seaside Art Commission is caught in a catch-22--in order for the City to live up to the letter of the (Civil Rights Act) law, First Amendment rights must go. The Art Commission''s commitment to live up to its mission must be set aside to maintain civic purity.
It looks like, in the future, there might well be no art or culture displayed (in Seaside) beyond that approved by its member(s). There is a precedent for this. World history shows us that whenever, wherever, the barbarians invaded, the first thing they did was destroy museums, art galleries and libraries.
Ed Crankshaw, Member,
Seaside Art Commission