Civic Arts Plaza Award Is Shocking

As a very senior citizen, it is shocking to learn that what I have long considered ugly or less than mediocre is today regarded as worthy of meritorious acclamation. That the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza would be chosen to receive an architectural award was unthinkable. To my old and jaded eye, it is an architectural monstrosity.

I am reminded that Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “The doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his client to plant vines.” In Thousand Oaks, the civic leaders rejected the vines and installed an overpriced, shoddy copper curtain, seemingly unaware that it would become more unsightly with age.

Has our appreciation of excellence so deteriorated? We do not demur when Michael Jackson is described as a superstar, and his earnings are perhaps 10 times that of Luciano Pavarotti. We stand in awe in front of a painting of a can of soup, and we refer to a man whose greatest achievement was to run faster than his opponents, carrying an odd shaped, inflated, pigskin bladder, as a legend.


I wonder, sometimes, if Mozart were alive today if he would perhaps be parking cars in Hollywood while waiting to be discovered; and would Leonardo Da Vinci be arrested for painting graffiti on the wall of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and be sentenced to scrub away “The Last Supper?” I guess we all have nightmares occasionally.

However, I believe that this age of superficiality is passing. I am encouraged that more teachers today are exposing our children to classical music, art, literature and I hope, architecture. The poet Keats said it best, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”


Thousand Oaks