Who is Perry Guillot? Joe Biden asks landscaper who revamped Rose Garden for Melania Trump to quit or be fired

Donald Trump-appointed officials -- art panel head Justin Shubow, artist Chas Fagan and architect Steven Spandle -- were also told to resign


                            Who is Perry Guillot? Joe Biden asks landscaper who revamped Rose Garden for Melania Trump to quit or be fired
A view of the recently renovated Rose Garden at the White House on August 22, 2020 in Washington, DC (Drew Angerer, Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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President Joe Biden has reportedly asked four key members of an arts commission, who advise the administration on design and architecture in Washington DC, to resign or be ready to be fired. The US Commission of Fine Arts includes seven members and the four Donald Trump-appointed officials who are facing issues are Justin Shubow, the commission's chairman, artist Chas Fagan, architect Steven Spandle and landscape architect Perry Guillot -- the one who redesigned Rose Garden for former first lady Melania Trump, which prompted a lot of negative reactions in 2020. Many had earlier called on Biden to return the garden to its ‘former glory’ as Jacqueline Kennedy designed

Shubow told Daily Mail that the new government is targeting them for their inclination towards classical styles over modernism. He stated, “In the US Commission of Fine Arts’ 110-year history, no President has removed a single commissioner — let alone a majority of the commission, and let alone the elected chairman. Were Biden to remove commissioners, it would set a terrible precedent by politicizing an apolitical, non-partisan body.

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“All of the threatened commissioners are proponents of classical and traditional public art and architecture, and the White House’s action clearly represents an attack on that sort of design, even though it is preferred by the vast majority of the American people. It is ironic that President Biden is a great admirer of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, yet FDR was a staunch proponent of classical architecture for Washington, DC, which he called ‘the loveliest city in the world.’ It is my hope that this administration does not want to bring back the ugliness of Brutalism or any other dismal styles,” added Shubow.

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U.S. President Joe Biden walks toward members of the press to answer questions before departing from the White House on May 25, 2021, in Washington, DC. Biden is scheduled to make a quick trip to Wilmington before returning to Washington later this evening. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The commission's chairman also claimed that on Monday, May 24, a letter came for him from the White House, which said that he would be fired from his position if he did not voluntarily leave the office. But he did not comply and asked for an explanation. Shubow said in his response to an email sent by Catherine M Russell, director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, “I respectfully decline your request to resign. I request an explanation of the legal basis and grounds of your extraordinary request and accompanying threat of termination,” before adding, “Lawfully appointed to a four-year term by the President in October 2018, I have served on the Commission honorably and well, and indeed was elected chairman by my fellow commissioners. I am a well-qualified judge of the fine arts who The New York Times and NPR called ‘one of modern architecture’s biggest critics.’ I have not received a single complaint about my performance.”

After the four were asked to leave, Biden’s administration reportedly announced the names of the people who will replace them. They are architect Peter D Cook, a design principal with HGA Architects; Hazel Ruth Edwards, a professor, and chair of Howard University’s Department of Architecture; Justin Garrett Moore, a designer, educator, and former executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission; and Billie Tsien, partner at Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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US President Joe Biden walks on the Ellipse to board Marine One on May 22, 2021, in Washington, DC. President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, son Hunter Biden, and grandkids took off from the Ellipse heading to Camp David for the weekend. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

“President Biden is proud to nominate this extremely qualified and well-respected group of professionals to the Commission on Fine Arts. They will bring to the commission a diversity of background and experience, as well as a range of aesthetic viewpoints,” a White House official told NPR.

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Who is Perry Guillot?

Guillot was reportedly behind redesigning the famous Rose Garden of the White House as per Melania's instructions. The revamped garden attracted more criticism than praise from people in August last year. A user tweeted at the time, “I am SICK. I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut & I’ll probably delete this, but Melania profaning the White House Rose Garden with her tasteless 'redesign' is the final straw. I will no longer be voting Trump.” Another one added, “Can we talk about how Jackie Kennedy’s Rose Garden was colorful and diverse and beautiful and Melania just made it... white?”

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A view of the recently renovated Rose Garden at the White House on August 22, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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According to the website of the US Commission of Fine Arts, Guillot “is the founder of Perry Guillot Inc. Landscape Architecture, a firm based in Southampton, New York, that specializes in a wide range of landscape design commissions for private clients and historic properties.”

It adds that Guillot originally belongs from Baton Rouge and has “received a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University. He served on the Planning Board of the Village of Southampton, New York, from 2008 to 2013, and co-chaired the annual ‘Landscape Pleasures’ symposium at Southampton’s Parrish Art Museum from 2000 to 2005. In 2002, Mr. Guillot created the art installation ‘Privet Lives,’ an illustrated outdoor exhibition in Southampton depicting the historic evolution of the privet shrub on Long Island, and he is also the author of the associated volume, ‘Privet Lives: An Imaginary Tale of Southampton’s Iconic Shrub’, published in 2004.”

Meanwhile, several people on the internet seemed happy after  Guillot’s firing as a user tweeted, “Away they go! Perry Guillot is the landscape architect who worked with Melania to redesign the Rose garden, he should definitely be fired. Good riddance.” The second one said, “Perry Guillot, who helped Melania Trump destroy the Rose Garden, is out of a job. Can we take up a collection to restore it?” “Well done, @POTUS @JoeBiden for firing Perry Guillot from Commission on Fine Arts-Perry's claim to shame is redesign of WH #RoseGarden Joe is right - fed bldg designs should reflet community input!” the third user added.

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