A gift of a bronze bust of Brother Asaiah Bates was withdrawn by donor John Nazarian on March 14, but a resolution remained on the Homer City Council agenda to accept it. As a formality, the council at its Monday regular meeting voted 6-0 to reject the offer.
Nazarian, 76, of Los Angeles, was a friend of Brother Asaiah. He planned to commission an $18,500 sculpture by Homer artist Leo Vait to be cast as a bronze statue and placed on the rock in WKFL Park. Brother Asaiah had partially donated the land to the city for a park.
Nazarian, 76, is an Armenian immigrant born in Syria who met Brother Asaiah when he lived at the Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love Fountain in 1962. Nazarian and Brother Asaiah were later part of a WKFL group that settled on a homestead at the head of Kachemak Bay and became known as the Barefooters.
The Public Arts Committee held a public hearing at a special meeting on Feb. 27. Testimony was overwhelmingly against accepting the art and putting in the park. The Public Arts Committee recommended not accepting the bust.
In comments at the end of the meeting, Mayor Beth Wythe noted this was the second time a request for a memorial statue had come before the council. The council had earlier considered a memorial for Jean Keene to be placed on city property on the Homer Spit. That memorial, a bench sculpted by Homer artist Brad Hughes, eventually was placed at Land’s End Resort on the beach. Wythe said the council or city manager should look at establishing a city policy for memorials.
“We need to try to find a way to get that codified,” she said.