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Saturday, November 30, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Kicked-Around Art -- Murals Find A Home

THE abused Alden Mason murals that a fickle state Senate stripped from its walls five years ago have been given a far from perfect, but better, home.

Senators approved installation of Mason's abstract murals in the Capitol in 1981, then decided almost six years later that they didn't like the artworks.

A similar dispute over artist Michael Spafford's "Twelve Labors of Hercules" in the House chamber reached ridiculous heights. After the House approved and installed those murals in 1982, some representatives thought they saw dirty pictures in the abstract depictions of Greek mythology. Curtains were put over them. Finally the House pulled the curtains, and the murals have remained on view.

All this second-guessing and art-bashing has been at great expense to taxpayers. Commissioning the murals, having them covered or removed, and paying attorney-general costs for continuing court battles have put the total cost for both murals in excess of a half-million dollars.

King County Superior Court Judge Terrence Carroll hruled that Mason's artworks belonged to the public and should be displayed at a suitable site.

The murals have been on display at the Centralia College library, though Mason felt the library was too small for the art. More court hearings. More state money.

Now Carroll has decided that Centralia College is a suitable site and should be the permanent home for the murals unless the Senate wants them back. The latter should - but probably won't - happen.

Locating the public-financed art where it can be viewed by the public makes more sense than stashing it in a storage basement to gather dust.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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