Dennis Kardon, Artist, Writes in Support of "Greenwood Pond: Double Site"


On February 15, 2024, Dennis Kardon wrote the following letter to the Des Moines Art Center (DMAC) Director Kelly Baum concerning plans to demolish Greenwood Pond: Double Site, a site-specific installation by the internationally acclaimed leader of the land art movement, Mary Miss, commissioned for the Art Center’s permanent collection. The work, which opened in 1996, is in a diminished condition with some sections fenced off, suggesting the DMAC has not fulfilled its contractual obligation to “reasonably protect and maintain” the work. The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) is calling for the DMAC to reverse it demolition decision and, instead, to engage in meaningful consultations with the artist and others to find a solution that restores the artwork and develops a long-term, ongoing maintenance plan. 




Dear Ms. Baum,     

As an artist and a writer born in Des Moines, I was dismayed to learn about the plans to demolish the Mary Miss public sculpture, Greenwood Pond: Double Site. Although I currently live and work in New York City, and the Miss piece was not yet installed when I left for college in 1969, I grew up a short distance from the Des Moines Art Center where my parents lived until my mother's death in 2013. My brother, the neuro-ophthamologist, Randy Kardon, teaches and practices in Iowa City at the University, and I try to attend the five year Roosevelt reunions (the DMAC was a site for the class lunch), so I still have strong ties to Iowa.      

The DMAC was always a landmark for me growing up, taking classes there as a child, and passing it on my way to Merrill Jr. High, and then Roosevelt High, though I did not begin to appreciate it fully until I became a painter after graduating Yale and moving to New York City. And so I was able to watch  it slowly transform from the original Saarinen building built a few years before I was born, to the Pei addition a year before I graduated, and finally to the Meier building, making it  the major  museum it is today. I visited and explored it every year, when I visited my parents, appreciating the development of its permanent collection, which I am proud to be a small part of, with a print.     

I grew up going to Greenwood Pond, and later appreciated how it was transformed by the Mary Miss piece. A classmate just reminded me how when we were both in Des Moines years after college we used to go at night and lie on one of the pathways and look up at the stars. It is hard to believe that nothing can be done to in some way preserve this piece. As an artist it is especially painful to me to see a museum destroy a piece of art that they were entrusted to preserve. I have read your letter on the DMAC website, and I understand the situation is much more complex than was presented in the New York Times, but can't funds be raised from some of the very wealthy collectors and art patrons in the Iowa community? I know there is probably a big outcry over the loss of this work, but I just had to add my voice to all the others urging you to find a solution.     


Dennis Kardon     



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