Gutzon Borglum

Before & After: Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore. A grand monument to four exemplary US presidents? A tourism gimmick? A complex white supremacy conspiracy? Art, even?

Whatever the case, our B&A example shows that even common folk like Gutzon Borglum can rearrange entire mountainsides with just a little dynamite, thousands of fed dollars, off-the-chart ambition, and maybe a few hours of sculpture instruction.

I’ve been to Mount Rushmore. My first impression: What’s with the faces in the rock?

Keep in mind I was 12 at the time, had been riding in the backseat of a cramped Chevy Blazer with my sister for what seemed like 120 hours, and was totally obsessed with nature and Native American culture.  Mount Rushmore was an insult to the Native people for reasons I couldn’t quite comprehend.

Today, I can appreciate Gutzy’s artistic and adventurous efforts for what it is.

Likes? Oh, a fine wine, looking mighty serious, long walks on the beach, and sculpting mountains. In that order.

After all, the guy chiseled and blasted through tons of granite,  somehow sculpting four highly recognizable busts along the way.  (You should see my stick figures. Atrocious.)

Gutzon’s work is a sore subject, even today. Just recently a UN official concluded that the “Mt. Rushmore Site Should Be Returned To Indigenous Native American Tribes.”

So what are your thoughts? Do you enjoy the art for what it is? Or Gutzon’s adventurous pursuit of eternal granite fame?

Perhaps you’re equally impressed and somehow disturbed with the whole thing like I am. What do you think?