The Flashlight: What Were They Thinking?

                    by Judy Berman

We stare up at this odd sculpture. It’s 38 feet tall, 10 feet wide and weighs 74,000 pounds. Dave and I are looking up at it and asking ourselves, “What were they thinking?”

This is a favorite question of mine, whether it applies to parental decisions, political and corporate leaders, questionable choices or actions I’ve made, or decisions by other folks who should be in the know.

In this case, what was this odd sight? I learned later that it’s a sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The “Flashlight” turned 30 in February 2011. The sculpture symbolizes University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) as a “Beacon of Knowledge.”

Funded thru private donations and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the total cost exceeded $95,000. This is according to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, May 6, 2001.

What brought us here to the UNLV campus? A guilt-laden walk of several blocks was needed to burn off the calories from a delicious breakfast at Blueberry Hill on Flamingo Road. I love their fresh crepes and Dave loves anything they serve as long as it’s topped with hot sauce.

We’re still on East Coast time. So it seems peculiar to have breakfast at 10 a.m. Las Vegas time when our minds and bodies still register 7 a.m. We stop at Blueberry Hill each morning before we go to Dad’s.

The campus, just a few blocks away from the restaurant, is a refreshing quiet and peaceful spot in the early-morning hours in the middle of a city throbbing with more than a million residents.

The view of the sculpture is much more impressive at night when it’s lit up. Or, in this case – down. The Flashlight’s beams are directed toward the ground rather than the sky.

The campus gives us pause for time to reflect. Time to contemplate unanswered questions. Time to consider a change.

(To read more about this sculpture, clink on this link:)

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