Art@Site Frank Stella The Town-Ho's Story

Frank Stella


The Town-Ho's Story

Metcalfe Federal Building
To fabricate this massive abstraction, Frank Stella combined several small metal sculptures into one large piece and poured molten aluminum over the structure to create an enhanced, cohesive form.
The Town-Ho’s Story is part of Stella’s 'Moby Dick' series. According to Robert K. Wallace, a Melville Scholar and author of a book on Stella, 'The sculpture takes its name from a chapter of Melville’s novel that is a tale about Steelkilt, an audacious sailor who uses both mind and fist to resist mistreatment.'
Frank Stella's sculpture, entitled"The Town-Ho's Story, " is a twenty-two foot high, aluminum and steel sculpture named after a chapter in Herman Melville's novel, "Moby Dick." The work was commissioned by a 13-member General Services Administration (GSA) panel consisting of local politicians, residents, and art professionals but no building employees, and was installed in the lobby of the Metcalfe Federal Building.
Six days after the work was dedicated, Environmental Protection Agency employee David Schulz began circulating a petition asking for the removal of the sculpture, stating that the work"was commissioned with no input whatsoever from [building] agencies and employees, " and charging that the work misrepresents"the missions of the agencies in the Metcalfe Building, and... the image of the federal government." Schulz, who claimed that 80% of EPA employees"object" to the work, called the sculpture"highly inappropriate" and a"pile of junk, " whose commission"reflects poorly on the government." The petition was set out on a table in the lobby of the building, and after almost two days, 625 signatures were added.