Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills and Gutzon Borglum


In early June, during our trip to SD, we made the obligatory pilgrimage to Mount Rushmore.  I wanted my sons to know the story of Borglum, his son Lincoln, and their sacrifice in completing this insane task–which at the time was surrounded by so much controversy, and financial ruin, that it’s a miracle it was ever finished. 


Many elitists deride this work.  As art I’m not greatly fond of it myself, but as a monumental achievement I find it utterly amazing.  Besides, each of the pieces is a damned good likeness of their subject, especially considering the scale.  But beyond that, it’s the story of the project that blows me away the most.  In the end it killed Borgrlum, so Lincoln finished it.  Like most things in the arts, neither of them was properly appreciated until after he was dead.


Well we all know how that is, or will eventually.   But what matters really is what you give, not the applause you receive–though Borglum would have passionately disagreed about that.  He loved applause, and attacked anyone who didn’t applaud loudely enough.  What a character.  Wouldn’t have wanted to rep him though.


Afterward we hiked all day in the Black Hills, up to Harney Peak and back.  The Sioux were right: it’s a sacred place.


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