What was … and what might have been

February 3, 2009

Polaris Ring by David Barr

Michigan Library II: Polaris Ring by David Barr, photo by farlane.

Since I’m writing a rant today, I figured I’d use my own photo.

The Freep reports (also Detroit News) that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is expected to announce the disbanding of the Michigan Department of History, Arts & Libraries (HAL) in her State of the State Address tonight at 7 PM.

There’s no word as to how that would impact the libraries, arts organizations and museums that HAL works with, but one can only imagine that it won’t be good. With universities and schools, the State Fair and other state programs facing deep cuts, you can bet that there will be a lot of hand wringing by the Governor and legislators on both sides of the aisle in the days and months to come.

I just want to say that this crisis has been looming for years and as a person with the job of watching Michigan, I’ve watched our elected officials on all sides worry about their political capital, re-election, counting coup on each other and pretty much doing everything but making the hard choices they needed to make. Now, they will face a mountain of unhappy choices and wonder theatrically what they could have done.

My answer? The jobs we elected them to do…

Michigan public television stations will broadcast the address and the Freep will be streaming the State of the State online and I’ll be somehow or other live blogging it at Absolute Michigan.

The sculpture in front of the Library of Michigan is called Polaris Ring by David Barr. Here is the info about it from their “Visions of Michigan” page.

From Easter Island to Africa, from Greenland to New Guinea — David Barr’s work is displayed worldwide. Specializing in project that employ geographic, geometric and geological elements, his Polaris Ring outside the Center’s main entrance often reminds visitors of a modern-day Stonehenge.

Fifty steel columns encircle a five ton kona dolomite boulder. Smaller stones spinout in a spiral pattern on either side.

”The combination of stone and steel represents the interface of prehistoric imagery with man’s technological imagery and strengths,“ Barr notes. The result is a mystical progression of space and volume that draws people toward the facility.

Based on a universal symbol — Polaris, the North Star — viewers are able to stand behind the sculpture’s center stone and look between the two tallest columns to see the star.

”Instead of having to look at the overall sculpture from the outside, I want people to be able to experience if from inside as well,“ he says.

I hope you get a chance to experience this sculpture and this very cool museum.

One Response to “What was … and what might have been”

  1. Gene Meier Says:

    I am writing the first book from the American point of view about 19th century rotunda panoramas. These were the biggest paintings in the world, 50 x 400=20,000 square feet, housed in their own rotundas which were 16-sided polygons.Chicago in 1893 had 6 panorama companies and 6 panorama rotundas.Most people know about the BATTLE OF ATLANTA panorama located at the corner of Bates and Larned Streets,made by William Wehner in Milwaukee and fully documented in the F.W.Heine diaries 1879-1921 which I found September 18,2003 and are presently being transcribed in German, then translated to English and finally scanned to computer. But VERY RECENTLY I learned about the BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG panorama by Paul Philippoteaux, whose rotunda was “located at Princess Theatre,Corner Second and High Streets,Detroit,Michigan.” I now have this exhibition catalog and would like to share with interested parties. I also seek an article from the DETROIT TRIBUNE December 13,1886 (page number not known,sorry) concerning an interview with William Wehner at the Bismarck Bar in Detroit, saying rather nasty things about the rival GETTYSBURG panorama and promoting his BATTLE OF ATLANTA. I have m u c h information to share.


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