The Public Art Commission's approval of a sculpture honoring native son Frank Zappa has triggered discussions about where it should be installed. I've heard folks suggest MICA, Mount Vernon, Mercy Hospital (where Zappa was born), and even the Inner Harbor—all heavily trafficked areas. I thought West Saratoga Street, near Saint Alphonsus, might be a good spot, considering the fact that Zappa name-checks the church on "St. Alfonso's Pancake Breakfast" (off his classic 1973 album, Apostrophe).
But after reading Rafael Alvarez's piece in the Examiner this week, I'm all for placing the sculpture in front of Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. It's actually the only place that makes sense. Zappa commanded respect as a serious musician, and his work, including orchestral pieces, is well respected around the world. Plus, a Zappa statue would draw people to the Meyerhoff/Mount Royal corridor.
As Alvarez rightly proclaims...
So, BSO honchos, let the great bronze and iconic head of Zappa grace your lawn and music tourists from Japan and Argentina and Akron will rent rooms and eat crab cakes while having their pictures taken with Frank, your gorgeous concert hall shimmering in the background.
“Anything we do connected with Frank Zappa has made the national news,” said Jeanette Garcia, an aide to Mayor Sheila Dixon and a Zappa fan determined to have the bust in place before the composer’s Dec. 21 birthday.
Allow more of Zappa’s celebrated music into the repertoire — as David Zinman did just after Frank’s death with “The Perfect Stranger” — and folks can read titles in the program like “The Dog Breath Variations.”
The Meyerhoff would make a suitable home for Zappa, dog breath and all.
***The above photo was taken by Highlandtown's Michael Maltese, during a 1967 Zappa concert at Eastern Senior High School.