The City of Seattle has a controversy on its hands over what to do with some space that will become vacant at Seattle Center, a public area where many performing arts and civic events take place.
A well organized group has proposed a Chihuly museum. Everyone seems to agree, or assume, that this proposal will be wholly funded by the Wright family and won't cost taxpayers anything. It's also stipulated by just about everyone, it seems, that the Chihuly proposal will be the best, economically, for Seattle.
But many feel the Chihuly folks have claim jumped. They don't like how smoothly the Chihuly group showed up with a packaged deal, and want more civic process around the decision of what will fill the available space. Seattle Center is not private property; it is owned and operated by the City of Seattle.
The controversy has moved political forces to slow the process down. Input is being sought; those with alternatives to propose have been asked to come forward. KEXP, an independent radio station with a large online following, looks to be the leading challenger to Chihuly.
Art critic Regina Hackett's latest post about the controversy is the most intelligent and persuasive piece I've read on the affair. She says that "on Dale Chihuly's tide, other boats can rise."
A public hearing took place Wednesday evening at Seattle Center, and I went. A friend went up to the mike and offered his own thoughts on what should be done. He and most of the persons who spoke were civic and polite. But a few who oppose the Chihuly idea were smug. One fellow said he supported a Chihuly museum "in the Northgate Mall," implying that Chihuly's work is tacky for being commercially successful.
I know no good deed goes unpunished and that a prophet has no honor in his own country, among his own kin, and in his own house. But wouldn't it be refreshing if Seattle's government had enough sense to ride out the resentments of the bewildered, went ahead and claimed the brass glass ring?