Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rapson's Guthrie Theater - trashworthy?

Docomomo Midwest is passing the word on a last-minute petition drive to save Ralph Rapson's modernist Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, which the company abandoned earlier month as it moves on to a new $125,000,000 complex along the Mississippi River. The Rapson building is scheduled to be demolished later this year for an expansion of the museum's current 12 acre sculpture garden. Rapson, at age 91 still active at Ralph Rapson and Associates, was on hand for the final performance, and has testified in support of preserving the theater.

The 11th-hour drive is being spearheaded by You can sign the petition on-line at the their website (as Preservation Chicago's Jonathan Fine and architectural historian Ward Miller, Director of the Richard Nickel Committee, did just today), as well as leave your comments. The site also has a wealth of information and links on both the Guthrie and Rapson, as well as a sampling of often caustic emails from people deriding the effort.

Major alterations have vandalized Rapson's design, most significantly in 1974, when the original cubist facade was removed. The Walker's PR man, Phillips Bahar, was quoted in an article in the Twin Cities Finance and Commerce as saying "People need to understand that there have been major changes to it. That's when the historic value of the building changed."

Which may appear to makes sense, until you recast how that sentiment would sound coming out of the mouth of a museum curator: "Well, being a genuine Tiepolo, the painting certainly has historic value, but parts of the canvas have been painted over by later hands, so we've decided the only thing to do is not to waste time and money trying to uncover its original glory but just pitch it in the trash."

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