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Quality an issue for CFA

Citing a basic disappointment in the quality of designs presented, the Commission of Fine Arts failed to recommend designs for three of the nine coins up for consideration when it met Oct. 20.

The CFA reviewed designs for four 2013 First Spouse coins and medals and the five 2012 America the Beautiful quarters.

“The basic message the commission expressed was disappointment with the quality. It’s not what it should be,” said CFA Secretary Tom Luebke.

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Overly complicated composition, badly rendered portraits, anatomically awkward positions and an inability to convey a positive character of a subject were top concerns, Luebke said.

The CFA reviewed obverse designs for the 2013 ATB quarters honoring White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio, Great Basin National Park in Nevada, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland and Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.

For the ATB quarters, the CFA recommended as follows:

• White Mountain – Design No. 1 was recommended because of its simplicity.
• Perry’s Victory – No design was recommended, with the CFA citing problems with the composition in each of the alternatives presented.
• Great Basin – Design No. 1 featuring bristle cone pines. The CFA liked the legibility of a composition with a single, major design element.

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• Fort McHenry – No recommendation. The CFA noted crowded compositions and excessive emphasis on human figures instead of the fort in the designs presented. It suggested the focus be on the five-sided fort.
• Mount Rushmore – Design No. 3 was recommended as the strongest.
The CFA reviewed designs for the sixth set of four First Spouse $10 gold coins and bronze medals. Their recommendations were as follows:
• Alice Paul – Representing the term of Chester Arthur. CFA chose design No. 5 for the obverse, noting the hair and hat in other alternatives were overly distractive, and design No. 4 for the reverse because of its simplicity.
• Frances Cleveland (1885-1889) – The CFA was pleased with the profile portrait but found its artistic quality insufficient, so it recommended design No. 2 as offering the best portrait. Reverse designs were criticized for excessive complexity of compositions. Reverse design No. 5 was recommended for its positive character and harmonious composition within the circular forms.
• Caroline Harrison – While criticizing the generally grim facial expression, the CFA recommended obverse design No. 5. Reverse design No. 1 was recommended for its interesting composition.
• Frances Cleveland (1893-1897) – No recommendation was given for either the obverse or reverse. The CFA noted the unpleasant facial expressions and awkward relationship of the head to neck and lack of profile pose of the obverse designs. The reverse designs were criticized for complex designs.

Luebke said the CFA asked that new alternatives be submitted for coins where no recommendations could be given.

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