The condition of “Crane Unfolding,” the sculpture in the middle of the River Market food hall, tells us something about Little Rock and its attitude toward art.
Kevin Box's sculpture, an 8-foot-tall stainless steel representation of an origami crane in its stages of creation, stood for the longest time on a rusty drum, like a bunch of lovely flowers stuck into an old can of Schlitz. The drum disappeared, finally, replaced by a smaller piece of iron on a circular base.
Now, the sculpture, painted white, is filthy with dust. You could write your name in it; surprisingly, no one has. Colored lights have been focused on it, as one would a 1950s Christmas tree. And the last insult: “Crane Unfolding” looks like it's been sideswiped by “Red Truck Oncoming,” thanks to a smear of red paint on one side.
OK, so “Crane Unfolding” isn't one of a kind. But neither is Henry Moore's “Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge.” Like Knife Edge, it will eventually be placed outside, in the playground being built in Riverfront Park, and there it will have to suffer the vicissitudes of weather.
Now, however, it sits uncared for, ignored. Heck, the tables in the River Market get swiped clean. (The floor not so much.) “Crane Unfolding” was a gift of sculpture to the city. Maybe the last.
Standing in line affects people different ways. Some, like The Observer, queue up quietly, just hoping to get through as soon as possible and not call attention to themselves in the meantime. Others, of a vivacious nature, see a line as a place to meet new friends and make new fans. The Observer was stalled in the express line at the supermarket when we noticed — couldn't keep from noticing — a fellow customer who was pronouncing loudly on the weather (“It's NOT gonna snow, people”) and other subjects. Then the man stared at The Observer and said, “Did anybody ever tell you you look like George Patton?” No, The Observer replied truthfully, no one had ever remarked on a resemblance to General Patton. (Nor to George C. Scott, who played Patton in the movie, either.) “Well you do,” the man said. And then he broke into song: “Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling ... ” Had a pretty good voice, too. The Observer tried not to look at him; so did the other customers. Eventually he stopped. No one applauded. The Observer imagined him going home and telling his spouse “Wow! Tough crowd at Harvest Foods.”
Mr. Pipes was almost right. The Observer, having awakened to clear streets, was filing a complaint with the Weather Service on Friday and demanding an apology when the snow finally started to fall. It was 10 hours late. However, all is forgiven. It was terrific snowball snow, which made up for its ephemeral nature.
From our paper to Holland: The Observer passed along a message from a high school teacher in the Netherlands requesting information about a soldier from Arkansas who is buried at Henri-Chapelle, an American cemetery in Belgium. The teacher, Rob Stal, takes flowers to the grave of Ssgt. Odis M. Isaacs. Why? He's grateful for the American soldiers. Why Isaacs? Just because.
Stal writes to say he's been sent via e-mail a picture of Isaacs and his obituary from a reader in Arkansas. Isaacs was 23 and in the 119th infantry when he was killed in action Dec. 19 in Belgium in 1944. He entered the service a little more than a year earlier. He was born in Greenbrier, and was survived by his father, a brother, two sisters and a step-sister, all of Arkansas. Stal will use the information in his classes to make the war “more personal.”
He's also received another letter from Arkansas, from a man whose brother also lies in Henri-Chapelle, asking if he could make a visit to that grave as well.
“Thanks from a friend in Holland,” Stal says.