Eleanor Heartney, Art Critic and Author, Writes in Support of "Greenwood Pond: Double Site"


On February 11, 2024, Eleanor Heartney 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,  

I am writing about my distress over the proposed demolition of the Mary Miss installation Greenwood Pond: Double Site. I feel a personal connection to this situation because I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa and the Des Moines Art Center was the spark that led me to a career as an internationally published art critic and author. I took classes at the Art Center from the age of nine and spent many afternoons during the 1960s and early 70s at Greenwood Pond, sketching the surrounding landscape, fishing in the pond, and enjoying the park. Later, after I moved to New York, I returned on a number of occasions to the Art Center and the park and was so pleased to see how Mary Miss had transformed the pond into a beautiful and inviting public art work. I always speak about how meaningful the Des Moines Art Center was to me and I doubt I would have pursued my present course in life without it. I have always felt that the Center is a precious jewel that makes the world of art accessible to young people who might never otherwise develop an interest in such things. So it was a shock to learn about the plans to destroy this installation because it feels so counter to everything that made the Des Moines Art Center important to me.  I urge you to take another course, work with the artist and find a way to preserve this work.     


Eleanor Heartney  

Art critic, author and contributor to Art in America, Artnet and ArtPress


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