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  • “That was Frisco; and beautiful women standing in white doorways, waiting for their men; Coit
    Tower and the Embarcadero, and Market Street, and the eleven teeming hills” by Jack Kerouac.

    She threw her school books to the ground and ran to help the firemen. Lillie Hitchcock was fifteen,
    and the year was 1858. That’s when her fight against fire began. She became honorary fireman,
    dressing as a man, smoking and gambling. When she died, she left a sizeable part of her estate
    to beautify the city of San Francisco. This is how Coit Tower was built. The imposing, stately,
    art deco monument became the symbol of the Public Works of Art Project during the New Deal.
    Redressing her sorrow for the destruction of the mural by Diego Rivera. That white cylinder today
    features also in the works of Neil, where Coit Tower stands as white as his butter, fluted just like his carved forms.
    He chose such medium because it’s pliable, offers scarce resistance, lends itself to all forms, and yet melts into nothingness.
    He created over thirty sculptures featuring Coit Tower. Perhaps for the contrast it lends. Contrast with such
    a massive, powerful monument, standing out in the San Francisco skyline. And by a process of
    exasperation, he was able to turn that cylinder at will, into a fabric of dreams or a dark territory.
    Neil knows the labor involved in his work, the difficulties, the frustration: a moment’s distraction
    and he may have to start all over from scratch. But such work makes him free to dream of a
    different world, where the injustice and oppression represented in the murals non longer exist.
    Just as Lillie once challenged social convention, today Neil challenges the laws of gravity and
    evanescence, creating ephemeral sculptures with butter. Any chance that a year from now he may
    move toward something less precarious? If so, it will mean that something will have changed in our
    society as well!
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