I once recorded some archaeological sites in Southern Utah that were in danger of being inundated by a small reservoir. Local tribes are routinely consulted on such issues. How should the sites be protected? What can we do to minimize the damage? I was surprised when one tribe, with deep, ancestral ties to the sites, said, in essence, do nothing. History moves on. Sometimes things fall away.
I was reminded of that when I heard the sad news this week that a portion of the chapel that artist Ted DeGrazia had built at his Gallery of the Sun in Tucson had burned. If you've seen UNICEF greeting cards, you've seen DeGrazia's work. For some, that defines the man. But DeGrazia was a great deal more--in my book, one of the most important artists of the Southwest.
There is now a gaping hole in the chapel roof, and some of the artist's murals were damaged. Hopefully everything was insured. But writer Linda Valdez wonders if you "can't put it back." "I have a feeling he would have spat a few choice words into the ashes and built something else," she said.
Archaeologists often find themselves patching up old ruins with dollops of mortar, a few handy stones, some shovels of dirt. It's called "stabilization." I have occasionally I asked myself: is this the right thing to do? Maybe it's supposed to melt into the earth. That's where you and I are going to wind up, and at my age, I'm as stabilized as I'm going to get.
I don't know the answer. Ask Ted if you see him.