Well that was fast. One of the worst votes five members of the Scottsdale City Council have ever cast, collectively or individually, has now made national news. You can read it here. This group consisting of Jim Lane, Guy Phillips, Suzanne Klapp and Solange Whitehead, led by Kathy Littlefield, should be ashamed of itself. For they have brought shame to their city. Why?
Because Scottsdale is supposedly a city committed to the arts. Because Arizona is home to the now departed John McCain. And to do what Lane, Klapp, Phillips, Whitehead and Littlefield did to a noble effort to honor McCain with the “Maverick Mural” is sickening, frankly.
Let’s go back in time to explain further.
Several years ago Marshall Way galleries, restaurants and salons organized to stop the decline on their street. Previously, Marshall Way had been on a par with Main Street as one of the two best arts streets in Arizona. So various merchants contributed $75 per month to help advocate for change. They presented a comprehensive proposal to the city. It was creative and innovative. Marshall Way’s biggest and most notorious landlord Dewey Schade didn’t contribute a dime. That’s particularly disappointing when we just learned, via his consultant David Ortega, that Schade is making “millions” off of the buildings on Marshall Way. Schade and Ortega are the leading opponents of the McCain mural, offering bogus argument after bogus argument.
They say Schade’s adjoining property may have its rights violated if the mural has to be installed. Funny, where were these concerns when he charged the same building owner to paint his building last year. And what about the rights of this building owner that wants to honor McCain on HIS wall? Does he have no rights?
The Five standing with Dewey Schade rather than art and John McCain might be interested to know that having done the bidding for Schade he has apparently increased his demands for payment for the necessary staging if and when the mural does get installed. Congratulations.
More than twenty years ago when Scottsdale lost its most beloved public servant in its history, Herb Drinkwater, who was there to eulogize him in front of thousands at WestWorld? John McCain. His words were both a tribute and a comfort. So how does this city now repay him for his service before, during and after? With this nonsense.
The Marshall Way merchants that tried so hard to help their street, without Schade’s assistance, didn’t get the city to act on very many of their recommendations, recommendations that, ironically, included a major expansion of public art on the street. But there is one that survived, thanks to then and now Councilwoman Linda Milhaven. She went to bat for funding to get what is now the “One-Eyed Jack” art installation done at the corner of Indian School Road and Marshall Way. Notably, Milhaven and Virginia Korte did not side with Schade cabal. They understand that things like a One-Eyed Jack are far more important to the community’s welfare than a two-eyed jackass.
This is not the biggest issue to ever hit Scottsdale. But it is symbolic, in so many ways. Phoenix has eclipsed the city when it comes to art because it understands that great art cities are the quilt of hundreds of different knitters. They understand that a real arts city is not operated by a central command and big government likened by The Fab Five but the ingenuity of the dreamers, creatives and artists like those behind the Maverick Mural.
February’s council meeting can’t come soon enough to right this wrong. If not and before then scorn will be well deserved.