Editorial: Trashing art

Jon Anderson's bamboo art was removed from UF's campus.

File photo
Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 2:38 p.m.

"Art is what you can get away with," Andy Warhol famously said. Tell Jon Anderson that.

For more than a year Anderson, a Florida Museum of Natural History volunteer, Vietnam veteran and former teacher, had been placing colorful bamboo art hangings in a wooded area between Shands and campus. One biology professor who took walks through the woods said, "It enhances the experience of walking down here. It makes it much richer."

But Anderson didn't get away with it. As detailed in a Sun story last week, he hadn't gotten permission to display his art on UF's campus. And, no question, the university has every right to remove unauthorized art.

But by subsequently trashing the art, after only a half-hearted attempt to locate him, the university showed a lack of respect for the very values that an academic institution is supposed to embody.

Universities should be a place where creativity flourishes, especially when it's unconventional. In Anderson's case UF should have put aside bureaucratic rules in favor of common decency and treated him and his art with a little more respect.

"It seemed that so many people got so much enjoyment from it, which is one of the reasons I did it," Anderson told The Sun. "I just wish they had gone a little slower with taking it down."

Warhol would have understood.

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