Paul Jacob

But if the cap is not relaxed . . . it means the stadium beautification planned by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities — at the additional cost of $2 million — cannot be done. D.C. residents would be stuck with a $611 million stadium that Washington Post reporter David Nakamura calls “a cold slab of concrete and glass.”

Nakamura has a point. Without the $2 million art beautification effort, the stadium will be nothing but a place for tens of thousands to watch baseball games. Nowhere would one be likely to find an active appreciation for other artistic expression. Just a bunch of baseball memorials, team pennants, retired jerseys, plaques to ball-players, and crowded hot dog and souvenir stands.

If we can put a man on the moon, can’t we surely put artwork in baseball stadiums?!

Certainly, it would be nice to have a stadium with magnificent works of art adorning it. So, the idea crossed my mind of allowing volunteer artists, mere amateurs, to help spiff up the new ballpark. For free.

But then it hit me like a ton of bricks and mortar: Only the professional artist types (those within the orbit of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities) are likely to know exactly how to attach cow dung to paintings of sacred religious figures. Otherwise, it could be quite a mess. And where else would we ever find pornographic performance art? (Except perhaps on the playing field at times, and then at even higher prices.)

Let’s face facts. Without publicly funded artists, art isn’t art — it’s merely pretty pictures and sculptures.

Which brings us back to the problem. According to reporter Nakamura, “[L]ike virtually everything related to the stadium project, the arts commission’s creative license was shot down by a familiar refrain: There isn’t enough money.”

Boy, haven’t we all gotten to know this niggling little predicament of insufficient dough? Why just the other day I found an item I wanted at a price I could afford. It was merely a plain, run-of-the-mill variety of that particular item. There were no beautiful extras. Of course, I’d really like the one they’re selling for a cool $2 million — it’s absolutely teeming with beauty.

It’s just not fair. I don’t have the $2 million to spend.

Lovers of beauty everywhere, I feel your pain.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.