Paul DiPasquale’s ‘Connecticut’ needs a new home


Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe statue

Discover RichmondRichmond artist Paul DiPasquale has a handful of public pieces around the city, the most prominent being his Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Avenue. He may not be the most well-known person in the city, but he was profiled in the August issue of Discover Richmond and was featured on the magazine’s cover. 

The Ashe statue [slideshow] cost almost a half million dollars and put many Richmonder’s in a tizzy, fretting over details like why a tennis champion and/or black man belonged on a grand avenue dominated by Civil War heroes. We have survived, and the tribute to Ashe is still the best one we have for him in his hometown. 

Headman statue on Brown's Island

Headman statue on Brown's Island

But DiPasquale’s art goes beyond Ashe. My favorite of his is the ‘Headman’ statue [slideshow] on Brown’s Island, commemorating the contributions of the black boatman on the James River. I like that one because I love the James and the park, and because it is rare that we honor the lives of the unnamed and unknown multitudes that help build, create and run our big cities and structures. Good for the little guy. 

The statue had its own controversy, as the original fiberglass version was stolen from the downtown park and found much later shot to pieces out in Hanover County.  Glad that no one treated the Ashe statue that way. 

Oliver W. Hill

Oliver W. Hill

No controversy surrounded DiPasquale’s bust of Civil Rights activist and famed Richmond lawyer Oliver W. Hill in historic Jackson Ward [slideshow]. I have hope that Hill will be honored with his own monument in a more prominent location some day, but this is a worthy piece that was dedicated at least five years before Hill’s rich life ended. 

Connecticut statue at The Diamond

'Connecticut' at The Diamond

 DiPasquale’s work at The Diamond, ‘Connecticut’ is a fiberglass and resin composition resembles a giant Indian brave peering out over a parapet [slideshow]. It needs a new home. 

Mike Kulick of Richmond.com did a Q&A with DiPasquale in 2007

This may be a tired question for you, but given the varying subjects of your art over the years, where do you find your ideas and inspiration?
Public art, I think, is obligated to attract attention, and is also obligated to provide a story or a mark that’s worthy of paying attention to. I look for people who are not acknowledged. The Indian at The Diamond was actually done in Washington DC, to honor Native Americans in the capital of America … because there are actually no statues of Indians in our capital. I did it thinking it could go anywhere in our country, and if I could actually do this and put it on top of a building in DC, I would get national attention and I’d sell it. Which is how it got to Richmond, and coincidentally how I got to Richmond. Inspiration really comes from looking for a market need. 

I think we need more public art, and Richmond has a good reputation as an art-friendly city. One of the things I love most about our town is that we have many monuments and statues honoring our great Richmonders.  

I’m not a fan of the name “Flying Squirrels” for our new Double-A baseball team, but they aren’t going away and the Connecticut statue doesn’t belong on The Diamond’s concourse any longer. I hope it finds a new home where it can be appreciated and cared for well.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Austin Braswell on February 15, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Dear Mr. DiPasquale,

    I am a student at Powhatan High School and I believe that having Connecticut at our school would be the best place 4 him. We are the Powhatan Indians and we have one of the best football and baseball teams in the state. It would bring so much joy and confidence to all of the students at our school.

    Our students, staff, and community would take the best care of it and protect it always! I hope and pray that u decide to have it placed here in Powhatan.

    Sincerely,

    Austin Braswell

    Reply

  2. I was thinking of how it would look nice for the Washington Redskins stadium to have such a wonderful depiction of an indian, and I think that the fans would also love it too.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Lee Dowdy on January 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

    923 Oak Hill Road
    Cumberland, Virginia 23040
    804 492-5547
    January 5, 2010

    Dear Sir:

    I am a member of the Cumberland County School Board and a concerned citizen of the Commonwealth. However, I am writing on behalf of our neighbors, the citizens of Powhatan County.

    Powhatan was cut from the counties of Chesterfield and Cumberland in 1777 and its founding is significant. It signifies our nations Native American heritage, and for that to happen in the 1700s is phenomenal.

    Chief Powhatan signifies the formation of a Native American Nation. He brought people together for a common goal and that is what Connecticut did for so many in Richmond. He brought people together to see the Braves, “our team,” win! I grew up going to Braves games and I love baseball and I would hate to see The ‘Connecticut’ sculpture at The Diamond discarded or put in an unjust place. In my heart I feel he belongs in a place that has honored Native American culture and heritage in this country and in the Commonwealth.

    Powhatan has named its school after Chief Powhatan and after his daughter the beautiful Native American Princes Pocahontas. They have named their team the Indians and I feel and propose that Connecticut be placed in Powhatan High School where he can watch faithfully over the brave sons that fight on the football field every year as well as their baseball brothers. Connecticut will give these young men inspiration to do their best and to fight the good fight for the Indian Nation.

    Again, I am not a citizen of this county, but its history is apart of my own county and my proposal is that Connecticut be place in Powhatan County near the High School.

    Sincerely,

    Lee Dowdy

    Reply

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