Artwork Paid For By Taxpayers

by Pearl Hahn

Yesterday, Grassroot received a phone call from Mark Niesse of the Associated Press asking for comment on the Aquarius, a gigantic mosaic on the floor of the State Capitol that was recently renovated using public funds. See the Advertiser’s “State Capitol’s Renovated ‘Aquarius’ Mosaic Unveiled” to view the article.

Renovation of the 36-foot circular Aquarius, a recreation of a work by late artist Tadashi Sato, was covered in the Grassroot Institute’s 2009 Hawaii Pork Report. The report criticized the cost of over $1.5 million to repair the mosaic. In addition, one phase of the repair involved a no-bid contract.

Since the pork report was released, I have received both positive feedback from those who believe art expenditures are a luxury and should not be funded by taxpayers, and on the flip side, criticism from those who feel that art expenditures are justified by the value they impart to the community.

It’s pretty clear how I feel about governments dabbling in art, but whether I support it or not, it looks like the state has no intention of stopping.

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