Is this a picture worth a thousand words? 99 cents?

Another Say Si Small Scale Art Auction approaches, which reminds me I have been blogging away for almost a year. I wanted to make a statement.

At the end of 2009, I decided to mount a visual protest against the visual clutter surrounding Alamo Plaza. A picture’s worth a thousand words.

Had not Delacroix’s unveiling in Paris in 1824 of his monumental “Massacre of Chios” swayed public opinion in Europe toward intense loathing of the Turks for slaughtering 10,000 Greeks? If the painter had chosen instead to depict the earlier savagery of the Greeks at Tripolitsa, might Europe have supported the Turks instead?

Inspired to try to motivate someone in the world to clean up Alamo Plaza, I assembled two of the ugliest collages ever created by combining photos snapped around the plaza.

Well, to put it mildly, Delacroix was more successful. Maybe my works are too small in scale. Maybe it’s because I have no bare-breasted women up front and center. Okay, I admit it. You can’t have known Delacroix personally; yet you know I’m no Delacroix.

So I switched strategies to attack by blog. The press is a powerful weapon.  After much haranguing, not much progress to report. Okay, I admit it. I am no great poet either.

Alas, even Lord Byron thought the sword mightier than the pen and found himself among the inspired volunteers traveling in resplendent uniforms in 1824 to join Prince Mavrocordato at Missolonghi. Byron wrote:

                    The sword, the banner, and the field,
Glory and Greece, around me see!
The Spartan, borne upon his shield,
Was not more free.

Awake! (not Greece–she is awake!)
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom
Thy life-blood tracks its parent lake,
And then strike home! ….

If thou regrett’st thy youth, why live?
The land of honourable death
Is here–up to the field, and give
Away thy breath!

Byron perished soon after, and most of Europe then seemed to pay attention to his call to support Greece.

I’m just not willing to sacrifice my life for signage. So I’ve come full circle and have donated “We’ve Lost the Alamo” for Say Si to include in the benefit auction on February 25.

My initial thought was that someone would see it and be so offended he or she would buy this print and insist it be hung at City Hall. If first impressions are important, why is this what we show more than 2.5 million visitors every year? Maybe that person should order another print for the office of the Convention and Visitors Bureau to show them that no matter how sleek the ads are trying to sell San Antonio this is the reality of what is here. Why the pair of prints should be in the office of every city council representative, every member of the Historic Design and Review Committee, in the home of every officer of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and every member of the board of directors of the San Antonio Conservation Society and in every office at the Texas State Historical Commission. Governor Rick Perry himself should have to look at this every single day. I never should have limited this edition of prints to only 25.

Okay, that is not going to happen. I decided to make my point, though, about the general appearance of Alamo Plaza by valuing the price of the print as that of the frame only – $20. As I drove off, I thought I should have requested its value be 99 cents.

As I felt guilty about using Say Si’s fundraiser as a political forum, I donated two more marketable prints based on “San Antonio Song” to make up for “We’ve Lost the Alamo.”

And, fortunately for Say Si, a multitude of artists stepped forward once again to contribute art you actually will want to have in your home. The work is all up for preview prior to the auction, or view it online in advance. Call 210-212-8666 to reserve a ticket for Friday, February 25 – $40 per person in advance, or $50 at the door.

Someone at Say Si felt sorry for the lowly valued print, “We’ve Lost the Alamo,” and decided to up its value to $45. Guess it’s coming back home with me to inspire me to keep typing. Here go another 700 words….

February 26, 2011, Update: Even “We’ve Lost the Alamo” found a new home, and the buyer really got the message without having to read the 700 words above.

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