Sell the Old Capitol
In Iowa, it seems we have gone from having a Statehouse to having a Strait-House.
Why else would Rep. Scott Raecker, R-Urbandale, stop at merely forcing the UI to sell the famous Jackson Pollack painting Mural? That might bring in a measly $140 million.
The 140 million cool that Raecker would like to rake in is peanut shells when we’re talking about the university’s budget. If legislators know so much about selling valuable property, why wouldn’t they want to make some real Moo Cow coming down along the road, as James Joyce might have put it?
Just for starters, there are so many other valuable paintings the UI owns. Why not sell them, too?
Just from Peggy Guggenheim, who gave the university Mural in 1951 (not in 1959, as the Los Angeles Times has reported), there’s also Pollock’s Portrait of H.M. (1945), Roberto Matta’s Like Me Like X (1942), Irene Rice Pereira’s Eight Oblongs (1945), and Charles Seliger’s Homage to Erasmus Darwin (1947).
And we’ve just touched the surface of the canvas, so to speak. There are so many paintings. So many sales. Talk about setting sales with the wind.
Imagine the millions the university could make. And imagine how joyful legislators would be, because they wouldn’t have to fund a public university that they consider to be a pubic school anyway.
Actual art is so 20th century anyway, if not 19th century. We could just as easily enjoy the art online, where everything in life happens these days.
And why stop at art? The university could sell off the site of the old, moldy, flooded Art Building to Burger King or Taco Bell. That should make both Republican legislators and undergrads delirious.
Which brings us to the Iowa Advanced Technology Labs — which some of us remember fondly as the Gehry building, even though only around half of it is actually Frank Gehry’s design (because some Iowa legislators hated it and cut off funding for the building).
If a lawmaker such as Raecker had some true grit, instead of a photo-shopped grin, he would demand that the university tear that monstrosity of a laser center down and turn it into a subterranean parking ramp and shopping center. Who needs basic research when you can sell stuff?
And in this spirit of joining the 21st century, legislators should mandate that the UI sell the Old Capitol.
Talk about a prime piece of real estate. Some smart developer could knock down that old and in the way limestone thingy (How’s that limestone thingy going for you? Sarah Palin would say) and put up a nice, new post-postmodern tower thingy. You know, retail on the first floor, some office space, and then that catchy mix of apartments and condos up above, crowned by the penthouse — which would inevitably come to be known as the Penta-House.
What undergrad wouldn’t want to live 15 seconds from classes in Schaeffer? Especially because undergraduate women seem to believe winter coats are so 2000.
And after selling the Old Capitol, the UI could then lease some office space in the new tower — which some naysayers would see as ironic, because, of course, the university once owned the space.
There will always be naysayers. I would prefer to see it as the UI’s predilection for loving nothing more than renting space in private buildings downtown or in the proximity.
(Well, OK; more than anything else, university administrators love lecturing underage people about their underage drinking habits — not that the administrators ever, ever indulged in that themselves — because talking about drinking alcohol is obviously the most important thing to do at a top-flight public university well-known for its research and its writing programs. They have Ph.D.s; they’re smart that way.
(One of these days, the way America works, drinking will be prohibited unless you’re on Social Security, on the theory that if you’re that old, you’re going to forget stuff anyway, so you might as well drink.)
So I don’t know why Scott Raecker is thinking so small; one painting no one understands anyway?
The university has lots of stuff to sell.
I’m looking at you, President’s Mansion. Why can’t the UI president live in an over-priced apartment, just like most university students?
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