Posts Tagged ‘Paul DiPasquale’

‘Headman’ statue on Brown’s Island

Paul DiPasquale's ‘Headman’ on Brown’s IslandWHAT: ‘Headman’ on Brown’s Island in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

LOCATION: Brown’s Island near the foot of the bridge over the Haxall Canal at the of 7th Street.

ARTIST: Paul DiPasquale.

DEDICATION: Nov. 25, 1993 (bronze statue).

DESCRIPTION: The 9 1/2 foot tall bronze sculpture commemorates the contributions of the black boatman on the James River. His two arms are holding an oar and his head looks to his side over his shoulder. The boat is made of cypress and oak and his hands are attached to a wooden oar.

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Paul DiPasquale's ‘Headman’ sculpture on Brown’s IslandBrown’s Island is one of the most essential outdoor party places in downtown Richmond, and Headman is there to welcome visitors to at the bottom of the staircase as they cross the long footbridge to enter the island.

The vistas from Brown’s Island of the downtown skyline, the James River, CSX train viaduct and the many other man-made structures makes this a great place to unwind.

Big events like the Richmond Folk Festival & Friday Cheers. All the summer food & music festivals, adventure games, car shows — down to the daily lunchtime walkers — all of it. Since the first time I noticed the boatman, I always take a few moments to see how he’s doing.

The original fiberglass version of ‘Headman’ was stolen away in 1989 to Hanover County, shot full of holes and vandalized. The current bronze statue was dedicated in 1993 and has held down the fort at Brown’s Island ever since. I think the city does a great job of making wonderful little places like this for people to see the diverse history of this old town.


Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Avenue

Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia

Richmond native, tennis champion and humanitarian Arthur Ashe was the first African-American male to win a Grand Slam event and was an active civil rights supporter. He is honored with a statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. [slideshow]

Close-up look at Arthur Ashe statue on Monument AvenueWHERE: Monument Avenue and Roseneath Road.

ARTIST: Paul Di Pasquale.

DEDICATION: July 10, 1996 (it would have been his 53rd birthday).

DESCRIPTION: The bronze statue of Arthur Ashe faces west with four children facing east. The statue shows him holding books in his left hand and a tennis racket in his right hand to illustrate how he encouraged the importance of sports and education. The 12 foot bronze statue (the figure is 10 foot tall, 12 foot to the books in his left hand) stands on a 87,000 pound granite block quarried in Georgia. The monument rises 28 feet above the street.

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There was plenty of controversy over this statue when it was proposed and after it was placed at Monument and Roseneath avenues back in July 1996. Questions like:

  • Should it be on Monument Avenue with all the Confederate heroes?
  • Should there be more design options?
  • Is the base too big for the statue?
  • Is he about to hit the kids with the books and the racquet?

Personally, I don’t think it is the best statue in Richmond. That’s no slight to Mr. Ashe, who was and still is a hero to so many people worldwide. The message in the statue is a good one, and true to his legacy. He’s kept a smile over on Monument Avenue.

Who remembers that then Mayor Leonidas Young had a proposal to place the monument in Byrd Park and rename the Boulevard for Arthur Ashe? Definitely, there were some that thought his statue belonged in Byrd Park, home of some of his tennis-playing days as a Richmond youth.

One article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch noted a suggestion from a city council member to move the Stonewall Jackson monument to make way for Ashe, calling the intersection of Monument Avenue and Boulevard “the most primary piece of property in the city.” I’ve written that it is the most trafficked and therefore most visible on Monument Avenue.

The article also noted that the entire Ashe family favored the site at Monument Avenue and Roseneath Road — and that Arthur would not have approved of the debate over the location for the statue.

How else has Richmond honored Ashe? Have you ever seen the Arthur Ashe Center? I’ve never liked the building, and I’m not alone. 

One day Richmond will tear that down and build a more adequate and modern facility to replace it.  There have been proposals, mostly tied in with revamping The Boulevard corridor and The Diamond, located on the same property. I hope that if it gets Ashe’s name, it will at least be worthy of his world-class status.

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 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.