A controversial sculpture in San Francisco’s Civic Center depicting a vaquero and a missionary standing over a fallen and nearly naked American Indian could be coming down as early as next week following a unanimous vote by the city’s Board of Appeals Wednesday night.
The vote reverses the board’s earlier decision and bookends a decades-long fight to remove what some critics have called a racist emblem of California’s past.
San Francisco’s Arts Commission and Historic Preservation Commission had both signed off on a proposal to remove the “Early Days” statue and put it into storage. But the plan was frozen after an appeal was filed by Frear Stephen Schmid, an attorney in Petaluma. Schmid argued that neither commission had the authority to remove the sculpture and that the decision was inconsistent with the city’s standards for removing or altering historic artifacts.
At Wednesday’s meeting, representatives of the Arts and Historic Preservation Commission argued that both bodies were acting well within the rights given to them by the City Charter when it comes to decisions about the city’s public art collection. Before their vote, several Board of Appeals commissioners said they were gratified to have received a clearer picture of the city’s rules and how they were interpreted.
Tom DeCaigny, the Arts Commission’s director of cultural affairs, said the commission would begin working to take the statue down immediately.
Full story at SF Chronicle.