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Dog's day may come

Manitou Springs Art Council aims to resolve controversy

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From this angle, the dogs tail encircles the, er, item in - question.
  • From this angle, the dogs tail encircles the, er, item in question.

The bronze Great Dane statue with a life-sized penis whose removal spawned allegations of censorship in Manitou Springs may yet return to public display.

The nine-member Manitou Springs Arts Council submitted a "blueprint" to the City Council on Tuesday, meant to clarify the process for deciding what's appropriate for the city's heralded art-appreciation campaign.

Mayor Marcy Morrison, who has resigned effective this weekend to become state insurance commissioner, late last year ordered the statue removed from public property on Manitou Avenue.

Though some in the city called the statue indecent, Morrison said it was removed because it was not the same statue as the one City Council initially approved.

Jim Jackson, arts council president, has shouldered the blame for the snafu. The arts council, he says, was forced to select and place another statue by sculptor Louise Peterson because she had sold the first piece before hearing that the city wanted it.

Jackson also says Morrison's decision trumped the arts council's authority.

"Had nobody complained about the dog, it would have been just fine," he adds.

Under the plan, the arts council will select pieces and location for public display, triggering a 30-day period during which residents can view photographs and submit comments. Then the arts council will present proposed displays to City Council. If the council declines to vote on the art within two weeks, it is automatically approved.

The council did not vote on the plan Tuesday, but Jackson said the council appears receptive. Morrison and City Administrator Verne Witham agree. If the council approves the plan perhaps at its next regular meeting in two weeks, with Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Morland presiding it could pave the way for the bronze dog's return, Jackson says.

"I think they'll accept it," he says. "We'd very much like to see the dog get its day in court."

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