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Teen's War Memorial to Displace Fish in Park

Updated 11 a.m.: After more than three hours of public comment and discussion, the city council voted Tuesday night to move forward with a war memorial at the intersection of Third and Main streets downtown, where the popular "Fish On" sculpture is now.

Updated 11 a.m. to correctly reflect the council vote as three to two with Inman and Mott dissenting with the choice of the Third and Main location. Thank you to council member Inman for the correction.

A Napa High School senior wept with emotion Tuesday night after the city council voted three to two in favor of locating her proposed war memorial at the southwestern corner of Veterans Memorial Park, at the intersection of Third and Main streets.

The council heard more than three hours of public comment on the topic, much of it from war veterans and other supporters of Alyssa DeBenedetti's planned memorial to local service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The memorial sculpture of a "battle cross" — an M16 rifle, combat boots and helmet — will replace the popular "Fish On" sculpture at the prominent downtown intersection, if city legal staff can work out an agreement with scupture Terence Martin.

In February, a majority of council members had told DeBenedetti — who developed the war memorial proposal as her senior project, required for graduation from the Napa Valley Unified School District — that she and local veterans could pick the location for the battle cross. They chose the current location of "Fish On."

But sculptor Martin's contract with the city allows his gleaming metal fish to remain in its current location for another year, while DeBenedetti's plan is to replace it with the battle cross by Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.

According to a report in the , about 40 people spoke at Tuesday night's meeting, which concluded with all council members exceot Juliana Inman and Peter Mott voting to move ahead with the Third and Main location for the battle cross. 

While many people said the busy intersection was a good place for the war memorial, others objected, saying the war dead deserved a more peaceful place to be remembered.

"I wish we could have done better," said veteran David Ybarra.

You can see and hear the complete public testimony and council discussion in the video from the meeting, embedded with this article.

shane April 19, 2012 at 02:22 AM
@ Catherine, keep drinking your zen tea, you're sooo righteous. And your comment is ignorant, as well as disturbing, Furthermore, it does'nt shock me, that my hometown puts a fish in a Veterans park. Lets keep some things traditional, and not defile.
Alex Shantz April 19, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I agree. Not to mention this memorial is to glorify the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which we now know were fought to protect US oil interests and American imperialism.
Art Morris April 19, 2012 at 05:35 AM
Catherine, I respectfully disagree with you. The artwork and memorial do not glorify war, but the fallen veteran. As a retired Air Force vet, no one wants peace MORE than those of us that serve, as it's OUR lives on the line, not yours. Without those of us who volunteer to protect the United States of America, you would not have what you have, including your life, quite possibly. I submit that your logic is a wee bit flawed. Too many people take the peace and standard of living we have in this country for granted, forgetting that our country was paved in the blood shed to protect and provide. What we enjoy here does not magically appear, but is earned with hard work, blood, sweat and tears. For those of us in the military, war is part of our job, but peace is our profession.
Art Morris April 19, 2012 at 05:37 AM
I think it belongs in the most visible place, and that would be Third at Main. As I said on another post: A fish gave it's life to feed someone; a vet gave his life so people can fish, and do everything else we like and cherish in America. In my opinion, veterans have priority over fish.
Derry April 19, 2012 at 01:58 PM
The fish sculpture makes me smile. The "War Memorial" should be in a place where quiet contemplation is encouraged. A busy street corner is not that place.
eileen susa April 19, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Catherine it is a veteran"s memorial park, this is a most appropriate place for this.
eileen susa April 19, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Catherine Veteran's Memorial Park is the most appropriate place for it. Misguided? I believe she is thinking and has compassion, bravo to this young woman. It is not about glorifying war, it is about our young people who have served for this country regardless of weather we think war is bad, of course we do. But this is in memory of so many young people.
Jeffrey Wright April 19, 2012 at 04:57 PM
You sleep under the blanket of freedom our military has provided you and yet you still complain ........
kgirl64 April 19, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I think both pieces of art should be displayed but, I like the fish leave it, and find another location in the park where everyone can enjoy it. As an artist asking to take your piece down to be replaced is kind of an insult I would think?
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) April 19, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Here's the question nobody seems to want to ask: What about the contract with the sculptor? The city gave its written word that the fish would be displayed at its current location for another year, now it wants to scrap the agreement; and monument supporters are blaming the art community for throwing up objections, when there's an actual legal document at the bottom of it all. Am I the only one to find this questionable, and possibly not quite honest or honorable?
Jamie Clemons April 19, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Im sorry but the fish has no area to fit in near vets park.. I believe that the fish can be moved over too near the riverfront block, the coner it was on be left blank.... but then the memorial not be put on 3rd st coner.. Were the sign for vets park is why don't they put the memorial there? near the sign?!?!?! I really think it would make it better looking, nicer and its there in the middle opening of the park, alot of trousit and locals can see it. I hang out with my friends at vets park and always see people walk by and just take photos near the sign so I really can see if the memorial was there it would be a hit area with anyone who takes a photo there...
Derry April 19, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I guess my previous comment was so objectionable that it requires approval. However, I feel that if the City can't, or won't uphold its agreements, what other agreements will it decide to broach?
Ann Trinca April 19, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Right Louisa! We made a commitment to Terence Martin as part of the Art Walk program designed by the Arts Council and the Napa Community Redevelopment Agency "to enhance public environment and promote the understanding and enjoyment of public art". It was a juried process and the Fish On piece was voted by the community to stay on the corner thru April 2013. Now we are going to pull that rug out from under him? UNFAIR! I think we should encourage new artists to create public art and memorials. But we have to follow a set of guidelines and contracts to be fair to everyone involved. As far as war memorials go, I think more people would like to have them in locations that are more private and reflective. If I am mourning those who lost their lives, I don't want to be doing it in front of busy corners and shopping malls. Why not try something like Walnut Creek's Memorial Plaza with benches and pools for a peaceful pause: http://otl-inc.com/projects/walnut-creek-veterans-memorial-plaza Or Maya Lin's gorgeous wall: http://www.everydaycitizen.com/2008/05/maya_lin_and_the_vietnam_war_m.html
Andrew April 19, 2012 at 06:09 PM
This is really shameful. It is obviously politically motivate in light of the upcoming election. The art that is there now is awesome. Happy to see Veteran memorials but why replace something that celebrates life, the river and its responding health. Really disappointment in this...and it has nothing to do with Veterans at all...its just not the right place and the motives are misguided. Shameful even.
shane April 19, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Well, you must be a new. Once upon a time, this corner was a lot more tranquil (as a Veteran's park). And I also recall in my travels abroad, great Veteran's/War memorials across this country in small towns etc, some even at their very center (such as in New England). What you really mean is "out of sight, out of mind"?
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) April 19, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Remembering the fallen in the middle of a bustling present is not so strange to me after growing up in New England, where the names Monument Street and Monument Square are everywhere— especially in Massachusetts, where the "shot heard 'round the world" was fired on April 19, 1775 and I attended re-enactments 200 years later that pretty much shut the whole region down. But I do worry about the Third and Main intersection because I believe the Downtown Specific Plan has that area in the proposed entertainment district, and couldn't you too easily imagine the memorial being treated disrespectfully by uninhibited passers-by?
Mike Treleven April 20, 2012 at 12:23 AM
What is so significant about the Third and Main streets location? I think there are plenty of places the war memorial sculpture could go. I like the fish art work.
Art Morris April 20, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Mike, the idea of the Third/Main location is that it is the busiest and most visible corner of Veteran's Park. Most people think that the Memorial artwork for the fallen vets of Napa should be at the most prominent and visible place in Veterans Park.
Art Morris April 20, 2012 at 02:52 AM
If there is a contract, then the contract should be honored. However, it sounds like the fish artist is a selfish brat who doesn't appreciate that he can create his art in this country at all. The high road would be to say, yes, the veterans memorial should have the most prominent place and I will agree to move my art to a different location. Seems like a crybaby to me. If he wants to be selfish and not let anyone see his art, then let him cut it down. We'll know not to accept or commission any artwork from him again. His actions and words speak volumes of his character. The question is, will he be seen as a patriot, or an entitled selfish brat.
Catherine George April 20, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Name calling is really not called for here Shane, but thanks for sharing.
Karen Garcia April 20, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Shane and Art both disagree with Catherine. One did it in a respectful, thoughtful way, while the other resorted to name calling. One explains his point of view and the reasons he disagrees. The other simply hurls injurious words at the person whose opinion he feels is wrong. Thank you, Art, for contributing to a meaningful discussion.
Catherine George April 20, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Rather than elaborate on my first post, I'll just say that I agree with the points that have already been made about locating a war memorial in a more quiet, contemplative place, and about the existing fish sculpture being moved. And while I'm drinking my zen tea, I will also say that I believe the young woman was misguided because of these very issues. If a mentor or an adult had stepped in, they could have helped her find a better spot for the sculpture that didn't push out an existing artwork, and they could have helped her find a more unique sculpture, or even might have tried to find a local artist to work with, rather than buying something generic as the memorial. And they could have saved her being in the middle of all this controversy. And while I gaze at my natural fiber clothing and eat my tofu rainbow bran sprouts, and observe the golden sunlight glistening on my long curly all natural beard (beard?), let me also say again proudly and with feeling, that I do not believe in war. Sometimes it is necessary - the case can be made for WWII for example, but we have many ways to solve conflict. We all know this already, don't we?
Art Morris April 20, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Thank you Karen, I appreciate the sentiment. I do, however, feel Shane's frustration at times. I must confess that at times I find it very difficult to try to understand people who lead and speak first of feelings instead of logic. This is not to say that I am cold and without feeling. In my mind, since the park is called Veterans Park, and that there is a memorial to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that we have the freedoms we enjoy here in Napa, it is logical to put the memorial in the most prominent and visible place in Veterans Park. I don't believe feelings about about "glorifying war" is what this thread is about, and believe that may be what was frustrating many people, such as myself.
Scott Yeager April 20, 2012 at 01:36 PM
"The question is, will he be seen as a patriot, or an entitled selfish brat." And there it is. Very black and white / either or thinking there Art. What I find disturbing is the use of the words "patriot" and "freedom" to shut down discussion when it comes to war in this country. They are thrown around a lot it seems to me not to promote discussion but for just the opposite reason. Not unlike the word "unamerican" is used for the same reason. If one wanted to have a meaningful and civil discussion then we could talk about what "freedom" has to do with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. How our "freedoms" were threatened by those two countries. What "patriotism" means when it comes to invasion of another country that was no threat to us and so on. Use of the words "crybaby", "selfish brat" twice and the idea that somehow the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have something to do with his freedom to make art and what you write speaks volumes about you to Art. It's not very subtle and what is apparent is the only thing that will satisfy you is to have this memorial in the spot where the fish sculpture is.
Derry April 20, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Firstly..... a deal is a deal. If the City entered into an agreement with the Fish On artist, it is incumbent upon the City to honor that agreement, even if it is inconvenient or not politically correct. If agreements are only binding until something better comes along, then Napa will be no better than a pro baseball player. That said, I agree with many others who suggest that any memorial sculpture be located where quiet contemplation and reflection are encouraged. A busy intersection with traffic speeding by and tourists chattering is not a respectful place to honor our war dead. I may have missed something here: Is this sculpture by a local artist? A veteran? Did it come from a War Memorial catalog? Just asking.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) April 20, 2012 at 02:28 PM
He's a crybaby and a selfish brat for objecting to having his contract torn up a year early, so a local teen can ace her senior project? Seems a bit strong to me: This is the man's livelihood you are talking about, Art. I think we're all entitled to be selfish about making a living without having someone call us names for it. This makes me wonder what on earth makes people think it advances their cause to insult anything they see as standing in its way? There's a good letter in today's Register about the lack of any attempt at a compromise in this matter.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) April 20, 2012 at 03:45 PM
It does apparently come from a catalog or ordering site, Derry. Sadly, the battle cross seems to have become a design that is in demand for public statuary. Here's another wrinkle: I received an email last night from a reader who objected to the location of a cross of any kind on public property.
Ann Trinca April 20, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Thanks Louisa (for your defense of artists below), the right to make art is not given or taken away, it is a core element of the human experience. You would not call a doctor a selfish brat for wanting to practice medicine "in this country"
Cari Attanasio May 03, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Mr. Morris, SHAME ON YOU for how rude you are to say such things about Terrence Martin as you just have in the above statement! I grew up and graduated high school with him and in all that time, he was always very friendly, encouraging to the younger class mates in our school, willing to lend a hand and had a smile for anyone who crossed his path. Seems it is you who has sour grapes and have shown your true color in your rude comment. I think that you owe Terrence an apology for what you have posted and I hope too that others seen you for what you are, a bitter and rude person.
debi hadlock-ramsden May 04, 2012 at 10:30 PM
My father is a Vietnam vet, husband is retired Air Force and my son is currently in the Air Force. I am the first one to stand up for anything military or war related. I understand how important this is. I also think a contract is a contract. Why do we have them if they mean nothing. Also, the crybaby remark woud be justified if you knew the artist. Which I can tell you that you do not, because by no means is he a cry baby. I feel you do owe him an apology. I also find the commet made by Ann Trinca interesting "You would not call a doctor a selfish brat for wanting to practice medicine "in this country"." If anyone knows Mr. Martin you would know he is the last person that would be called selfish or a crybaby. Maybe you should get to know him now and hat he did before he decided that being an artist is what he really loves to do. Art is his calling and he is a wonderful man. Go and talk to him instead of about him. I know words and feelings would change about him. First ask what he did before becoming an artist. That would be a great place to start. Then ask him what "Fish On" means to him.

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