Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Saving Father Garces

The big news in today’s paper is the proposed idea to move the Father Garces statue. Caltrans is planning on rebuilding Hwy 204, which passes over the statue, and they are worried that the construction could damage it. Caltrans anticipates a strong reaction from the community. Kathy Moore, owner of Books, Books, Etc located near the circle, was quoted as saying, “To me, that is Bakersfield. I love that guy.”

According to the article, the statue was created by the sculptor John Paulo-Kangas and first unveiled in 1939. Father Garces is 22 feet tall and is made from a 24 ton block of Indiana limestone. The padre was originally set in the center of the circle but was moved when Hwy 204 was constructed in 1956. I thought this was interesting, apparently there are some people out here that say they have seen, “The statue’s hands and lips move in blessing just before nasty accidents happen on the roundabout.” I wish I could see him do that. That’d be freaky.

The executive director of the Bakersfield Museum of Art called the statue a piece of art and described it as, “A piece of the city’s historical and cultural soul.” I think that may be going a little overboard. How many of you have ever been anywhere near that statue? Trying to cross the street to get to it would be dangerous to say the least. As we all know people around here simply can’t figure out how to navigate that damn circle.

Chris Brewer, the Caltrans architectural historian, said that Kern County Superintendent Museum is one place they could move the man to but that they are open to suggestions. Seems to me the museum is the only place that makes sense. Where else is he going to go - in front of Vons? They could do some thing cool like knock down the old Zody’s building and make a little Garces statue park, but then we’d be losing another historical and cultural icon.

What ever they decide to do you can bet your bippy that folks around here are going to get all riled up about it. After all, what else is there do?