The Town-Ho's Story (sculpture)

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Date: 1993

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Sculpture


Image obtained from the Library of Congress

Artist: Frank Stella

Confronting Bodies: Federal Building employees

Dates of Action: Fall 1993

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Description of Artwork: Frank Stella's sculpture, entitled The Town-Ho's Story, is a twenty-two foot high, aluminum and steel sculpture named after a chapter in Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick. The work was commissioned by a 13-member General Services Administration (GSA) panel consisting of local politicians, residents, and art professionals but no building employees, and was installed in the lobby of the Metcalfe Federal Building.

The Incident: Six days after the work was dedicated, Environmental Protection Agency employee David Schulz began circulating a petition asking for the removal of the sculpture, stating that the work "was commissioned with no input whatsoever from [building] agencies and employees," and charging that the work misrepresents "the missions of the agencies in the Metcalfe Building, and... the image of the federal government." Schulz, who claimed that 80% of EPA employees "object" to the work, called the sculpture "highly inappropriate" and a "pile of junk," whose commission "reflects poorly on the government." The petition was set out on a table in the lobby of the building, and after almost two days, 625 signatures were added.

Results of Incident: GSA has no plans for removing the work.

Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack 1994