In a world blitzed by Covid and variants, by climate change fires and floods, and by all the political wars, one can’t expect media attention given to self-expression – to art. Understood.

But when multiple news outlets detail the latest brouhaha over the White House Rose Garden renovated by Melania Trump and leave out of the account the sculpture she installed there, it demonstrates that even when in plain sight, art doesn’t register unless it makes a record sale. Otherwise, its presence is like fungi. It’s there, but you don’t take notice.

Historian’s high jinks

The news story in question quotes a tweet from presidential historian Michael Beschloss marking the first anniversary of Melania’s renovation. He referred to it as an “evisceration” of what Jackie Kennedy had created. Melania had taken down trees and substituted the floral beds with her own picks and paved over walkways. So, in its infancy, it looked “eviscerated.” But she rightly objected to the photo that Beschloss used because it pictured the new garden before it bloomed.

The photo Beschloss used is certainly misleading, and Melania has cause to call it out. But as is her husband’s habit, hyperbole marred her argument. In a tweet, she complained like this: “His misleading information is dishonorable, and he should never be trusted as a professional historian.”

It’s hard to so completely dismiss a man with nine history books to his credit, none of which has even been discredited.

That said, he shouldn’t have used a photo of the garden before it had a chance to flower to bash it.

Movie madness

But wait, something else Beschloss said about Melania in the past may also be fueling her anger. The Mercury News cites him comparing her to “a crazed Joan Crawford (as played by Faye Dunaway) destroying her rose garden in the 1981 film “Mommie Dearest.” Not very historian-ish, that.

And it certainly doesn’t help Melania’s frame of mind that an online petition with 80,000 signatures is asking current first lady Jilly Biden to bring the Rose Garden back the way Jackie Kennedy designed it.

But here’s the thing in all the discussion reported in the Mercury News, the Huffington Post, the New York Post, and Yahoo News, not a solitary mention about the sculpture that Melania also installed in the garden – a glaring omission in news reporting.

So, allow me.

Paying homage

The sculpture, a bronze abstract titled "Floor Frame", is by Isamu Noguchi, and its harsh angles don’t make it a good fit in a flower garden. It looks too industrial, as if leftover scraps from a construction site.

Not that Melania didn't have her reasons for choosing the sculpture - its low height for one. She called it “humble in scale (that) complements the authority of the Oval Office.” Complements may not be the best word. The low-lying bronze may also be seen as bowing down to the authority of the Oval Office.

Melania’s take on Floor Frame doesn’t come close to what Noguchi had in mind. Art News magazine quoted the sculptor explaining what he was thinking when he created the work - specifically the “essentiality of a floor.” His sculpture, then, should sit on an actual floor, not on a shifting bed of earth.