Art Panel Okays ‘Spaceship Earth’: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 02, 2004

Civic Arts Commission members Wednesday voted 7-2 to accept “Spaceship Earth,” a massive quartzite and bronze sculpture honoring the late Berkeley-born environmentalist David Brower. 

The vote followed lobbying by members of the Brower family and Mayor Tom Bates, a friend both of Brower and of the Maxwell family, which commissioned the giant work. 

Still to be decided is the statue’s location, which will be selected by a panel formed from commission and community members. 

Voting against the proposal were Bonnie Hughes and Sherry Smith. 

Hughes, who opposed the controversial piece on esthetic grounds, expressed her frustration in one pithy sentence: “How would you like to have a 350,000-pound political football tossed in your lap?” 

Richard Duane, the attorney for the sculpture’s patrons, the late Brian Maxwell and his widow, Jennifer, said a plan to revise the sculpture will address concerns voiced by several critics, who saw the life-size bronze representation of the environmentalist atop the globe as an icon of imperialism ill-suited to the environmentalist’s message. 

Eino, the Finno-American sculpture who created the piece, offered an alternative to the commission. He will recast the figure seated on a bench contemplating the twelve-foot Brazilian quartzite sphere with the landforms cast in bronze. 

The reconfigured piece was also endorsed by the Brower family, represented by David’s son Ken, and Dave Phillips, program executive director of the Earth Island Institute, an environmental group created by David Brower. 

The next step will be determining a location for the new sculpture, a task assigned to a soon-to-be-formed site selection committee consisting of Civic Arts Commission staff and citizens. 

The city also needs additional engineering and other data to ensure the safety of the statue, Duane said.  


—Richard Brenneman›