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North Park man wants to bring to San Diego a Burning Man sculpture dedicated to abused women

SAN DIEGO – A North Park resident is leading a grassroots effort to bring to San Diego a work of art paying homage to abused women, which was on display at the 2013 Burning Man festival.

JP Conly, a former vice president of the San Diego Democratic Woman's Club, attended Burning Man this year in the desert near Black Rock City, Nev., and along with two friends wrote about their experience for San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

Conly said he was impressed by the giant sculpture of a woman, which is called “Truth Is Beauty,” and was honored to meet its creator, Marco Cochrane.

Speaking to SDGLN this week, Conly said “Truth Is Beauty” was inspired by a tragedy that impacted the family of the sculptor, who dedicated the artwork to women who have been abused. Conly said he connected the message of the sculpture to what has happened to the women who have accused Bob Filner of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior when he was a congressman and the Mayor of San Diego.

“We need healing,” Conly said. “This sculpture can go a long way to inspiring us as a community to do better.”

Today, Conly sent an email to Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, which was copied to various city leaders and media members, imploring that the City bring “Truth Is Beauty” to San Diego to be displayed until the sculpture can be sold.

Conly wrote:

"I recently traveled to the Burning Man music and arts festival in Northern Nevada. On my trip I encountered an incredible piece of art called 'Truth is Beauty.' It was created by a sculptor named Marco Cochrane. Inspired by a personal tragedy in his family, Marco creates large scale art to honor woman who have been abused. I have attached some photographs of his latest work.

"Part of the Burning Man culture is to bring works that are created for that event to cities that support art. I know that you support the arts here in San Diego, and I believe that Truth is Beauty (TIB) would be perfect for our city especially while we are healing from recent events that directly effected women's place in our civic life. I was lucky enough to meet and talk with one of the engineers on TIB, we exchanged emails and phone numbers, which led to me speaking with Marco's wife Julia Whitelaw. They would ultimately like to have a buyer for TIB, but also said that they would be willing to loan her to San Diego until they find a buyer. When I explained why I thought TIB belonged in San Diego, they agreed!

"I have attached all the information on her which includes transportation to San Diego. TIB is stunning and she also has 4,000 brilliant LED lights which make her beautiful at night. Just think of the amazing postcard shots of this beautiful statue at the Embarcadero or in Balboa Park! I did a little research to compare the costs of TIB to 'Unconditional Surrender.' The kissing statue cost approximately 1 million dollars which I think was raised by donations. Please look at the information I have provided, and bare in mind- Truth is Beauty could be a fraction of that cost. In addition, TIB represents something important, she represents all the woman who have been abused. Unfortunately, to some people The Kiss represents a stolen kiss which was non-consensual at the time the famous photograph was taken... possibly even glorifying attacks on women.

"I have spoken to many people within the political and arts realms, and to a person, they all agree that the city of San Diego needs to heal. Truth is Beauty could help achieve that goal, permanently honoring women for all time. What do you think, can you help with this goal?"

Anyone who wishes to join Conly in his cause is invited to email him to: fabulusmejp@yahoo.com

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.