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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Capitol Accident

We're back home again already, but I've got a few more things to share!

I didn't know I was going to be checking another state capitol building off my list, it was a lucky accident as I was driving through West Virginia to Kentucky.  I was driving down the highway when I saw a golden dome.

Of course I had to get down there and have a look.   The dome on top of the Capitol in Charleston was covered in copper, and then covered with gold leaf topped by an eagle on a 25 foot spire.

There wasn't as much ornamentation throughout the building as what I have seen in other Capitols, though I didn't get a look in every nook and cranny of the large complex due to limited time.  The Rotunda features a chandelier hanging from a 54 foot brass and bronze chain. The 4,000-pound chandelier is eight feet in diameter, made of 10,080 pieces of Czechoslovakian crystal, and illuminated by 96 light bulbs.

The walls are made of Imperial Danby, and the floors are a combination of white Vermont marble and dark Italian travertine.  But with the exception of some carvings over the pillars the ceilings and walls were strangely bare.

The West Entrance to the East Wing, East Entrance to main building, and East Entrance to West Wing feature carved heads of mythological creatures.  I was a bit puzzled as most Capitol buildings use ornamentation that is relevant to the history, industry or state symbols and seals.

The only thing I saw along those lines was a statue outside honoring coal miners.  I found this interesting little side note on Roadside America's site:

What is troubling to some about the miner statue is not the guy, but one of the plaques bolted to its base, which praises the blasting away of mountaintops to get at coal, and which the Capitol Building Commission says it is powerless to change.

Conversely, some state lawmakers have been shocked into public denouncements of the masculinity of the female veterans statue. The chairman of the Senate Military Committee has even suggested that the statue be altered to depict a woman in a skirt. This would cost a lot more than removing the plaque on the coal miners statue, thus neither is likely to happen, and thus everyone in Charleston will have a statue that they can dislike.

The female veteran should be wearing a skirt?  Honestly. I'm happy to hear that the art will remain as intended by the artist, but it wouldn't be the first time in history that art was censored.  I've been reading "The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver which has artist Diego Rivera as one of the characters.  If you're not familiar with the story of what happened to his Rockefeller Center mural check out this link.  It's an interesting story, as is his life story and that of his wife Frida Kahlo.  Though their styles were different they both produced very moving work, give it a look!

1 comment:

  1. I read The Lacuna, and it was a very interesting story. Good for you, checking off another state capitol.