City Council Censors Wing Art

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Violation of Church and State Cited

Proposed art with angel that caused prohibition

One of three proposed artworks with wings that caused the prohibition.

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – A proposal by an artist looking to paint utility boxes in the city crashed like Icarus after a hot council debate decided that wings are banished as public art on city street corners.

The January 7 meeting of the city council determined the proposed images crossed the line separating church and state. The depiction of a winged figure was interpreted as an angel that might have been associated as a Christian symbol.

Paul Miller Says No to Wings

Pastor Paul Miller

Pastor Paul Miller

This particular proposal for art in public places did not sit well with Mr. Paul Miller who works as a Lutheran minister and argued against art that with potentially spiritual or religious symbolism. It might seem an odd position for a minister of the Christian faith but Miller made himself clear during his three minutes preaching at the podium by advocating that all images of wings be outlawed.

Miller said the nature of the city’s public art policy “enters into the world of spirituality stuff” and discriminates against Christian images while favoring Universalist, New Age, metaphysical, Hinduism as well as Buddhist types of images as acceptable in public art.

Paul Miller said if art of one religious belief is not allowed but others are permitted then he prefers the images of desert landscape scenes.

“When you get into depicting things with wings, etc. you are definitely entering into spirituality stuff and if you are going to do that then you need to put crosses, crèches and you need to get back to saying all right we’re going to put Christian thing here, put a Muslim thing here, we’ll put a Buddhist thing here,” said Miller who convinced the council to record a unanimous vote banning wings.

Miller ended by saying his preaching during public comments was not “political.”

All Wings Prohibited

Roadrunner prohibited

Roadrunner prohibited

In what may turn out to be a classic case of unintended consequences, the council’s ban on wings encompasses roadrunners and burrowing owls which are banished with the angels when it comes to public art in the city.

Innocuous illustrations of chicken wings as well as classical images from Greece such as Nike are now barred as the decision by the city council made no distinction of wing specificity. The exacting language of the measure that won by a unanimous vote was that no public funds would pay for any images of wings.

Nike prohibited

Nike prohibited

Yudit Ecsedy, the artist who had proposed the angels said she has seen many Angels, reminding the council that historically Angels are not unique to Christianity but were adopted from Judaism.

Ecsedy  defended her proposal with an eloquent explanation of her intent to depict the scared and the spiritual in an inspiring way without association to any specific faith. She said her intention was to depict spiritual beings of light as uplifting sentinels visually representing a sacred reality to enlighten us.winged sun

Classical Images Banned

Also on the do-not-paint-this list is a winged sun, a symbol associated with divinity, royalty and power in the Ancient Near East. From the 8th century BC, it appears on Hebrew seals as well as the Greek. Most are familiar with the winged sun conventionally depicted as the knob of the Staff of Hermes recognizable as the caduceus, emblematic of physicians.

The winged sun is also associated with various groups such as Freemasonry, Theosophy, Rosicrucians and Unity Church. Variations of the symbol are also used as a trademark logo on vehicles produced by the Chrysler Corporation, and Harley Davidson. All are apparently off limits.

Native American wings prohibited

Native American wings prohibited

No Fairies Allowed

Fairy prohibited

Fairy prohibited

Illustrations of wings worn by Native Americans in tribal dances are presumably not allowed. Also taboo are fairies – they have wings. Add to the list the common household fly.

No Airplanes

Aspiring Leonardo Da Vinci’s take note; all manner of wings are forbidden. Not only is Da Vinci’s painting of Angel Gabriel from the Annunciation outlawed and so too are drawings of winged vehicles.

Airplane prohibited

Airplanes prohibited

Airplanes, rockets and missiles have wings prohibited from public art in Desert Hot Springs.

Latin American art depicts winged figures in the art of cultures of the Olmec, Toltec, and Inca that can no longer be referenced.

Many illustrations of aliens from out of this world have wings, as well as dragons and the hood ornament of Rolls Royce.

When it comes to good wings versus bad there seems to be no difference in Desert Hot Springs. The devil of the matter is that both angels and demons have wings.Devilish art dilemma

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Dean M Gray

Writer, Artist & Publisher at Desert Vortex News
Dean started in the newspaper business at the age of nine earning 90 cents a week walking 4 miles delivering a newspaper door to door. 500 miles later he began writing his way out of a paper bag and traveling uphill.

For over 40 years Dean has been published in a variety of small newspapers and magazines. As publisher he founded an alternative city weekly newspaper in 2008 and published over 200 uninterrupted issues over 4 years to over 20,000 readers via 800 locations (and online) before selling the business. Now online with over 4 million readers worldwide.

Dean is a Master Carpenter and the author of the biography of Hilda M Gray, desert homesteader. He served as Planning Commissioner for the city of Desert Hot Springs from January 2014 to January 2015 when he resigned.

Dean M Gray is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors and lives in Palm Desert, California.
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6 thoughts on “City Council Censors Wing Art

  1. I am offended by your story because you obviously favor creatures with wings. It is not fair that only creatures with wings would be allowed to be portrayed with city funds. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Creatures without wings are beautiful too.

  2. This article is absurd. The issue is not about airplane wings, it’s about religious depictions that would violate separation of church and state. Wings on angels are religious. The city cannot depict religious symbols and the artist wants to flood the city with her religious propaganda on 5 boxes and they basically look like Christmas cards. She clearly stated in the meeting that she wants to present a “sacred” image that would inspire residents. Her whole message is about promoting her religion. A picture of an Indian with symbolic wings would not be a violation as it’s not religion, it’s symbolic of the area’s history, and a tribal dance imitating birds. Also not acceptable would be a depiction of Bahubali which is clearly a religious symbol of the Jain deity so it would be a violation of separation of church and city government. There are literally billions of other images that are not religious that would be appropriate.

  3. A mission of city government is not to promote religious or spiritual awareness. It’s to promote visually appealing art image for the community to help attract people of all faiths. I don’t want any part of my taxes even coming close to subsidizing religiously based angels or the like fluttering around. It suggest what DHS stands for. It crosses the line and lays us wide open to future abuse by local religious figures with an agenda to help promote their own particular brands of religious beliefs. I’m glad the Council drew the line.

  4. This is a stupid interpretation of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, as I see it. Of course, this follows on the heels of many other idiotic interpretations of same. The 1st Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – See more at:

  5. This has to be the most inane decision made by this city, well at least one of many. Dear God do not expose any sensitive people to “wings” in public art. Good grief there goes the whole city culture. Much better to do gangsta’ art with guns a blaze and people being blown away. Then the next art work could show the deceased from the gun battle lowered into hell or going up to heaven (depending on your faith or lack there of) but no wings for those fools. Yeah, gansta’ battles being displayed. Much more appropriate for this quiet little village to depict everyday life than something that would bring a smile or make one feel good. Really people????

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