National Civic Art Society Decries Manipulated Images in Eisenhower Memorial Marketing Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 7, 2013
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National Civic Art Society Decries Manipulated Images in Eisenhower Memorial Marketing Campaign

Eisenhower Photoshopped Next to Media Personality Larry King

Eisenhower Photoshopped Next to Media Personality Larry King – Source: Eisenhower Memorial Commission

Desperate for public support for the highly unpopular design of the National Eisenhower Memorial, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has launched a website called “Ike 2012” (http://www.iLikeIke2012.com). A mock presidential campaign, it pretends that the former president is running for office today.

Prominent on the site are historic photos of Eisenhower photoshopped so that he appears alongside contemporary figures George Stephanopoulos, the U.S.A. baseball team, Larry King, and Queen Elizabeth II. What this has to do with the honoring the president in a national memorial is beyond us.

The National Civic Art Society believes the images are manipulative, misleading, and undignified.  Nowhere does the website state that the images are simulated. They are as tawdry as the 1996 television commercial that used a dancing Fred Astaire to sell vacuum cleaners.

The website prompts the question: Why has the Eisenhower Commission launched a tax-payer-funded marketing campaign to get their Memorial design built? We believe it is a sign of desperation. And it eats away at the $142 million the Memorial is already estimated to cost.

As if this were not enough, the Commission is trying to entice donors by offering a ludicrous, but telling, quid pro quo: Those who give $3 million or more will get to “meet one-on-one with Frank Gehry,” the celebrity architect who is designing the Memorial.  This meet-and-greet offer is additional evidence that the Commission hired the architect less for his skills than his star-power: A fashionable fame that would attract visitors to a Memorial that would inevitably be called “The Gehry.”

Still more serious, the Ike 2012 website is representative of the lack of respect the Commission and Gehry have shown toward the man they are supposed to be honoring. First, their plan was for the sole statue of Eisenhower to be a life-size barefoot boy seated on a plank. As Professor Kirk Savage, author of Monument Wars, commented, “Memorial designers could never have portrayed Martin Luther King as a boy. It would have been considered highly offensive.”

Now the plan is to depict Eisenhower as an unrecognizable life-size cadet standing on a wall, not a pedestal. Figuratively and literally overshadowing him will be 80-foot-tall pylons and a titanic steel mesh screen larger than the iconic Hollywood Sign. Needless to say, the president—a modest man who disdained Modernist art as unrepresentative of the taste of the American people—would have been horrified by the grandiose, avant-garde design.

National Civic Art Society chairman Justin Shubow commented, “We demand that the Eisenhower Memorial Commission remove the offensive images from its Ike 2012 website. We further demand that the entire Memorial process start afresh. It is high time for a new design competition: one that is democratic, transparent, and fair—a competition as open to an unknown designer from Abilene as a celebrity architect from Los Angeles.”

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