Arts and Culture

In March, Louisville Metro Government announced a new way for residents to provide feedback on the city’s public art — a letter writing campaign.

Now, the city has posted a different kind of letter at the site of two vandalized, controversial pieces of public artwork. The first is at the site of the John Breckinridge Castleman statue in the Cherokee Triangle.

The letter begins:

“Dear Residents and Visitors: Public art, like any shared public space, reacts with time, conditions and individuals who engage with it. This monument represents John Breckinridge Castleman (1841–1918). It was privately commissioned and sited in public space in 1913.”

The letter then details how the monument has been vandalized and conserved on multiple occasions in 1996, August 2017, and most recently on Feb. 7, 2018. It states that the Public Art and Monuments Advisory Committee, which was established in December, is hosting meetings until June 2018.

The letter continues:

“The current site conditions will not be addressed until after this process is complete. Louisville Metro Government remains committed to a public process with community input. We urge you to participate in public meetings. Write a letter. Get involved. Let your voice be heard. For more information please visit louisvilleky.gov/government/public-art.”

A similar sign is posted at the site of the George Prentice statue at the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library, which was also vandalized in February.

These letters answer the question of whether or not the city would restore the Castleman statue before visitors come to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby and the Cherokee Triangle Art Fair; the earliest a decision will be made is after the committee’s final meeting in June.

This is in contrast to the city’s position after the monument was vandalized with orange paint in 2017. During a news conference on August 28, Sarah Lindgren, the city’s public art administrator, said the Castleman statue would need to be restored regardless of whether it stayed in its current position or was removed.

At the time, the Falls Art Foundry was hired to complete an $8,200 restoration. It took a week to fully clean the statue.

Ashlie Stevens is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.