DALLAS – Barvo Walker, an accomplished sculptor and painter, said the city should consider the statue of Confederate Robert E. Lee on Turtle Creek Blvd. as a work of art rather than a monument to hate.
"I don't come at it from a standpoint of racism or politics. I think particularly Robert E. Lee is such a beautiful equestrian statue. I hate to see it disturbed,” said Walker, 85. “I don’t want to see the statue destroyed. I hate to see it removed.”
His is a perspective that hasn’t been discussed much in the current conversation on whether or when to remove them from public parks.
Can the Confederate monuments be viewed as art?
Walker said citizens should look at the statue of the Confederate general aesthetically, not politically.
"Somebody spent eight years creating that. Somebody got together and collected $50,000 to create that. I'd hate to see that destroyed,” added Walker. “It's world class art. It's probably one of the finest equestrian sculptures in the United States.”
He is one of the 20 people who Mayor Rawlings recruited to his Task Force on Confederate Monuments. The group is to make a recommendation of what happens to the Lee statue and the granite monument in Pioneer Park next to the convention center.
Rawlings appointed Frances Waters to chair the group. She did not immediately return messages from WFAA.
The other members include: Buddy Apple, Attorney and Preservationist Sara Mokuria, Associate Director for Leadership Initiatives, University of Texas at Dallas Coy Murchison, Health Care Administration Professional Jesse Hornbuckle, Photographer and Business owner Terrance Perkins, Executive Director, Passage of Youth, Inc. and Pastor Dr. Ervin Seamster, Jr., President, Southwestern Christian College and Pastor Marilyn Mayse, Attorney Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, Senior Pastor, Friendship-West Baptist Church Norma Minnis, Mortgage Broker Coy Poitier, Dallas County Historical Commission Dr. Glynn Newman, Professor, Eastfield College Jo Trizila, President & CEO, TrizCom Public Relations Maggie Murchison, Executive Committee, The University of Texas Chancellor’s Council Barvo Walker, Sculptor Rene Martinez, Education Consultant Joli Robinson, Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Larry Schoenbrun, Attorney, Gardere Wyne Sewell LLP Bryce Weigand, Architect, Weigand Art & Architecture Arman Rupani, Managing Partner, Rupani & Matthew Group LLC.
The task force’s first meeting, open to the public, is Thursday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chambers.
Walker, who has worked around the world, has been commissioned to create sculptures for people such as Michael Dell. In the mid-1980s, Walker recreated the Goddess of Liberty statue, which sits atop the Texas State Capitol.
The Confederate War Memorial at Pioneer Park is not as extraordinary as the 81-year-old Lee statue, Walker said. That’s something he hopes the task force considers.
"The art's going to outlive everybody that's on this committee by years. That's what we need to consider. What's best for Dallas,” said Walker.
Looking at the monuments as art might be a losing argument, but Walker said he can't imagine Dallas doesn’t have a place for them.