Site and sculpture shabby, depressing: lawyer

 In Letters, Opinion


Ralph Hicks, the creator of the sculpture of dancing children which, for years, has been the central feature of the Station on the Green (SOG) and Horticultural Garden, recently wrote to Creemore and the SOG board saying how profoundly disappointed he was at the lamentable state the sculpture had been allowed to fall into, a state, he argues was as a result of neglect and failure by Creemore illuminati et al to clean and refurbish the sculpture on a regular basis.

Anyone who has walked by the sculpture recently could not disagree with him. The fountain surround is crumbling, the benches are discoloured and decaying, the children in the sculpture are covered with a heavy patina of green verdigris and look distinctly unhappy.

My impression was that the kids were eager to move onto another town where they might receive better care.

The site and the sculpture are shabby and depressing. Rather than being a statement of pride and achievement by the town, it is has the appearance of something about to be dragged off to the sculpture equivalent of the knackers yard.

Ralph enlisted me in his one-man campaign to rescue his artwork from the decay and indifference which was about to engulf it.

He met me at a musical event in June (Creemore inspired) and asked if I could help. I said I would. We talked about strategy and such things, and eventually broached the awful word “litigation”. Ralph and I are no strangers to litigation and we know that even a mere hint or whiff of litigation elicits nervous reactions.

The following Echo issue for reasons I don’t understand took up the threat of litigation and rolled around in it like a dog in a dead raccoon. Big headlines grabbing attention. For Ralph and me litigation was a hollow threat, nothing more, we never believed the chief men of the town would need anything more than a gentle nudge to set things right. And the town did as we hoped. By next issue, the sculpture was to be accorded full spa treatment, bath, mani/pedi and a blow dry. There is an agreement that annual maintenance will continue into the future or until the world ends, whichever occurs first.

However something unexpected incurred during all this which has left me mystified and frankly disappointed.

My letter to the Town was a discrete and restrained piece.

It talked only about the sad state of the sculpture, how the sculpture was being ignored by the town and how the work of a world class artist was being marginalized much to  his dismay.

As part of my argument I said the Hicks piece was the single most valuable contribution to the SOG project. I thought then and still do that that is a true statement. I did not say nor did Hicks ever say the sculpture was more valuable than the boundless contributions of the many people who made the SOG a reality.

However rather than publishing a letter or two agreeing with Hicks’ concern and agreeing the sculpture was in a deplorable state, The Echo published two letters implying Hicks overvalued his contribution, that thousands of volunteers gave their blood sweat and tears to the SOG project and in the final result who was Hicks to inflate his contribution beyond that of the many volunteers?

Where did this come from? Nothing Hicks nor I contemplated, thought, did or imagined was in any manner whatever meant to raise or even suggest a comparison of the relative value of the contributions and efforts of Hicks versus the legions of unnamed volunteers. If you think about it for a moment, the efforts of Hicks and the volunteers are fundamentally  incomparable. How can you measure in any meaningful way hours of actual toil, or fund raising activities or lobbying against artistic inspiration and execution. Both deserve their praises but no reasonable person would conflate one with the other or suggest that by mentioning one activity in a newspaper article many years later, one group of contributors was being disparaged and devalued.

Creemore has a superb public sculpture, one that brings pride to the town and enjoyment to countless visitors. Why can we all not be grateful for that special moment when the citizens of Creemore came together to do something special for the town and to now rejoice  without qualification or acrimony at what has been created for the ages.

Ernest Rovet,


Editor’s note: Ernest Rovet sent a copy of the letter addressed to Station on the Green chairman Bill McDougall and Clearview Township CAO Steve Sage to The Creemore Echo.

Secondly, The Echo has published all letters to the editor on this topic.

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