What follows is my personal opinion about Frank Gehry and the Eisenhower Memorial based on my family’s experience with him.
Statement about Frank Gehry
I am the wife of classical figurative sculptor Sabin Howard, who was courted by Frank Gehry to be the sculptor for the Eisenhower memorial, asked to write a proposal and give ideas, flown to LA for a lengthy meeting with Gehry and his team, promised the gig to the tune of a verbal statement: “You are the sculptor for the Eisenhower Memorial and you will start next week,” and then suddenly dropped.
Sabin says outright, “He stole my ideas for creating a relief that places general Eisenhower as part of his troops and at the same time at the head of his troops. He hired a less competent sculptor who does not have the ability to pull it off.”
This kind of dishonorable behavior and intellectual theft on Gehry’s part convinced me that Frank Gehry is not to be trusted. I began to pay attention to the Gehry camp’s arrogant shenanigans around the Eisenhower Memorial, starting with his blatantly rude and condescending disregard for the Eisenhower family’s staunch opposition to his plans.
Gehry’s ill conceived plans call for gargantuan woven metal curtains and a tiny sculpture of the boy Ike. The curtains are ugly and reference only an elderly architect’s egotistical notion of himself as a groovy post modernist—they have nothing whatsoever to do with our beloved and plainspoken president, statesman, and military general.
It’s not just the way Gehry treats the Eisenhower family that’s scandalous. The cost of these hideous metal curtains is astronomical, more than a hundred million dollars. Those curtains aren’t in production and yet, to date, more than forty million dollars have disappeared into Gehry’s pockets, with only spin doctoring to show for it. Gehry has hired a team of full-time publicists to keep the machinery of his self-aggrandizing monument going.
I have written in the Huffington Post about the disappearance of this taxpayer money. Forty million dollars is a lot of cash! I have queried high profile media venues, trying to garner interest in some real journalism, some real investigative reporting.
In this I was aided and directed by my neighbor, the venerated and sadly recently deceased international bestselling author Frederic Morton. He personally spoke to people at the New York Times and the NBC investigative unit. Fred was an Austrian Jew who wrote poignantly of his father’s internment at Dachau. He had met and dined with Eisenhower and Mamie; he held a deep respect for President Eisenhower and felt distressed that the Eisenhower family was being disregarded and condescended to, he agreed with me that Gehry’s plans were inappropriate, and he felt that the vanished tens of millions of taxpayer dollars was an outrageous scandal that warranted serious investigation.
Despite Fred’s stature, these news outlets failed to respond.
I can only surmise that these news outlets are as smitten with Gehry’s celebrity as were the cronies who handed him the Eisenhower memorial in the first place despite the fact that Gehry is patently the wrong man for the job.
I do intensive historical research for my historical novels. I published one novel set during WW2 and I am still researching that period for another novel. The more research I do, the more certain I am that Eisenhower the statesman and president of simple dignity would have been horrified by the gargantuan metal drapery. Absolutely horrified. His family has spoken up in his memory and in his honor and they deserve to be heard.
In continuing to press his plans, Frank Gehry is thrusting up his middle finger not just at the American people, but at President Eisenhower as well. I would say, “the very man whom the Eisenhower Memorial is supposed to honor,” but it is clear that Gehry’s plans honor only Gehry and no one else. They certainly do not honor President Dwight Eisenhower.
I have been told that Tom Brokaw and Bob Dole have been sucked into the slick chicanery of Gehry’s PR efforts. If so, then I say to Brokaw and Dole, Shame on you!
Pushing to get money for Gehry’s hideous plans would only be throwing good money after bad money, and that’s the sign of rank foolishness. Gehry’s advanced age is the only reason to rush ahead with widely-loathed plans despite obvious chicanery, massive quantities of vanished tax-payer money, and the Eisenhower family’s objections.
Some politicians and TV personalities who are also elderly like to pontificate that it’s time to get the monument done after the 15 years of wrangling over it. To them I say: after an open competition, it only took a few years to get Maya Lin’s breathtakingly gorgeous Memorial Wall done.
And Lin’s Memorial demonstrates the better way to move ahead: a fair and open competition, as is currently being done with the World War 1 memorial.
So to those aging cronies and TV personalities who are smitten by Gehry’s celebrity, I say, Don’t throw good money after bad. It’s time to cut bait and move on. Hold a fair, open, and blind competition. That’s what would truly honor Eisenhower, a man of famed and celebrated humility.
To anyone who is listening, I say: don’t buy into Gehry’s shenanigans. President Eisenhower, his remaining family, and We the American People deserve better. We deserve to know about how our money is lining Gehry’s pockets. And we deserve a truly beautiful and magnificent Eisenhower Memorial, something on the order of the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial wall.
DR. BRUCE COLE’S ARTICLE “GEHRY’S MIDDLE FINGER”
DR. BRUCE COLE’S ARTICLE “A MONUMENTAL SHAME”
Traci L. Slatton about the Gehry Memorial on the Huffington Post