November 8, 2010

Last week I got a call from a reporter working on a story about Horus on Mt. Tam and when she contacted the Marin County Open Space District was told the statue had been destroyed by their agency! Naturally I was immediately concerned and disappointed that they would actually take it upon themselves to destroy such a fine work of art.

   The district had placed a sign on Horus two years ago in hopes that someone would claim and remove him from Open Space District land. But after his removal and impound he went unclaimed for 90 days, the magic number for disposal of abandoned property. Naturally all of this was done in the most official bureaucratic manner. The linear view is that it was not  a natural part of the landscape, meaning that it had to be removed in order to protect the setting. This while it enhanced the setting and added another element of mystery to the mountain. What I don’t get is why the homeless camping and party sites I came across nearby haven’t been removed? Do they enhance the setting and are they a part of the landscape? Or am I missing something.

   In 2008 when I called and spoke to the Public Information Officer for the Open Space District I was informed that the sculpture was still residing on the mountain unmolested and had not been removed by the District. This was verified by the ranger who operates in that area. However I was assured, the district had made no final decision on the disposition of the sculpture and it was possible that it could remain where it was due to its weight, inaccessibility of the site and the fact that it has resided there for some time and too its uniqueness.

   Evidently none of that mattered in the end. So I followed up today with another call to the Open Space District to hear their side of the story. In particular why all of the above criteria didn’t help Horus in his silent quest to remain on the mountain as a cultural asset of historical and curiosity value.

It would be nice to close the entire matter with Horus living happily ever after, but that is clearly not the case, unfortunately. Late last week I was contacted by a reporter from Mill Valley who informed me the statue had been removed from the mountain by the Marin County Open Space District, impounded for 90 days, and when unclaimed was destroyed. Naturally I was extremely disappointed and unhappy to get the bad news, mostly since this unique sculpture was such an attribute and had such a magnificent presence on the mountain.

   So I contacted the Marin County Open Space District and spoke to Open Space Chief Ranger Brian Sanford who confirmed that the district did indeed remove the sculpture two years ago and that after it went unclaimed for the requisite 90 days they had it removed by a recycler. Sanford assured me that “If the sculpture had been of any value to the district like a bicycle, tools from a pot farm! or a sleeping bag we would have retained it for reuse.” Evidently there is nothing useful to the district about a work of art.

   So the mystery continues surrounding the two Bay Area birds. One a famous falcon whose story is known to millions thorough a book and a classic film and the other a famous Egyptian God from Marin County whose story is lesser known and who ended up being carted off to a recycling center only to disappear without a trace. But a mystery is a mystery and this one is no exception.