Sunday, October 05, 2008

Offended neighbors get Utah park statue moved

In this Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008 photo provided by the Edge of Cedar State Park Museum, a statue of an humpbacked flute player is seen. Edge of the Cedars State Park moved the sticklike figure from the front to the back of a museum where it can't been seen from the street, said park manager Teri Paul. (AP Photo/Edge of Cedar State Park Museum, Teri Paul)
AP Photo: In this Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008 photo provided by the Edge of Cedar State Park...

By PAUL FOY, Associated Press Writer Thu Oct 2, 6:02 PM ET

SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah state park moved an American Indian-inspired statue of a humpbacked flute player Thursday after objections that it was offensive because the male figure is anatomically correct.

Officials at Edge of the Cedars State Park moved the sticklike figure from in front of its museum to a spot behind it so it can't been seen from the street, park manager Teri Paul said.

The park, in Blanding, is the site of an ancient Pueblo Indian ruin, as well as the modern-day museum.

The sculpture is a modern interpretation of a Hopi symbol of a flute player. Made by artist Joe Pachak, it has welcomed visitors to the park for 19 years.

It raised objections only recently from a group of Blanding's more conservative residents, who were concerned that the figure has male anatomy, Paul said.

At first park officials were going to ban the figure from the park altogether. But another group of citizens complained of censorship.

"So, our solution — I believe we have served everyone the best we possibly can," Paul told The Associated Press on Thursday. "It's not right in the front of the museum on the street, where everyone can see it."

The statue depicts an image commonly found on rock panels in southern Utah, a man believed to be announcing the arrival of spring with a flute.

The flute player is a Hopi clan symbol that's often confused with the ancient fertility god Kokopelli. Tribal elders specifically asked the park to make the distinction clear to visitors, Paul said.

One of those who supported the move, Harold Lyman said he objected to the phallic symbol because it isn't always depicted in traditional rock art images of the flute player. Therefore, he told The Salt Lake Tribune, it's not an essential part of the image.

Susan Dexter was among those who favored leaving the sculpture in place.

"Give me a break. It's not like a massive erection like some of the ones you see on the panels. It's nothing like that," Dexter told the Tribune.

The work is among several pieces of Pachak's sculpture that grace the 17-acre heritage park. The artist didn't return a telephone message left Thursday by the AP at his home in Bluff.


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