It is a life lesson that we win some and we lose some. We have high moments and low points. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Recent days brought joy and disappointment. And life goes on.

The thrill was a rousing political rally that filled the Selma Arts Center theater on Saturday to welcome TJ Cox as our District 21 congressman.

It was jam-packed with politicos, from Congressman Jim Costa to Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria, Selma City Council members and mayors and council members from several surrounding cities.

The gathering featured a ceremonial swearing-in of Cox by Soria. Selma mayor Scott Robertson praised Cox for his tenacity that resulted in a dramatic comeback victory in November after being behind by a few thousand votes on election night.

Soria noted the diversity of the crowd that reflects the 21st District and our country. Both Christian and Sikh prayers were offered.

Cox has offices in Washington, D.C. and Bakersfield. He plans to open a third office in Selma because of its central location (his district runs from Fresno to Bakersfield) and because of the support he received from Selma during his campaign.

The positive vibes from that gathering were in contract to my disappointment that the Selma City Council decided not to renew its contract with artist Ernesto Palomino to keep his statue in Lincoln Park in Selma for another three years.

Because it is my strong belief that we need more art in Selma, not less.

Despite the fact that both the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Arts Council had recommended keeping the art piece (and possibly moving in to another location to make room for an electronic message board at that corner), the council at its Jan. 22 meeting decided to return the sculpture to Palomino.

Vicki Filgas, the Selma arts supporter who had helped bring the piece to Fresno, said Arte-Americas cultural center in Fresno, Fresno State University and the City of Fowler are possible sites to install Palomino’s statue.

Their gain, our loss, in my humble opinion.

At that council meeting, no one stood up to speak of behalf of the keeping the statue in Selma. Maybe members of the Parks/Rec Commission (that includes me) and Arts Council thought our votes to keep it spoke for us. That is on us for assuming something.

Based on comments at the Jan. 22 City Council meeting, the statue — a tribute to farmworkers that sits on a corner of Rose and McCall — was not universally appreciated or understood by some folks.

A few citizens spoke up with comments such as “I don’t understand it; what does it mean?” Like much art, the “meaning” of Palomino’s piece is both complex and simple, and it could have been explained to anyone who took the time to research it.

Granted, the double-sided bronze statue is not bright, shiny and colorful. It doesn’t showcase a Bear, grapes or a peach. One side represents the Aztec goddess Coatlicue; the other side is a rendition of the Farmworker’s truck, the vehicle that has driven countless workers to the fields in and around Selma.

In the end, if the city council opts to go against its two committees who oversee the parks and the arts and return a loaned statue back to its creator, it has that right. I just hate to see “I don’t understand it” be the motivation.

Some of us will miss Palomino’s tribute to farmworkers as we make our way past the corner of McCall and Rose. Often, when driving to church, the library or City Hall, the monument reminded me to appreciate the blood and sweat of those who labor in our agricultural economy.

So we can be content knowing that we had that experience for three years. And we can rejoice at the many murals that give color to our city. (In fact, another mural was dedicated Wednesday morning at Selma Pet Clinic.) We can offer our thanks to the folks who support and promote art, music, theater and dance in our city.

And we can continue to campaign for more — not less — art in Selma.

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(Longtime Selma resident Ken Robison is a retired newspaper reporter, editor, columnist and photographer. Selma Stories runs on Wednesdays in The Enterprise.)

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