Sunday, August 27, 2006
Paul DiPasquale's Neptune, one of the pieces included in the second annual Richmond Outdoor Sculpture exhibition. There is something weird about Paul DiPasquale, he has a knack (intentional?) for making conservative, odd sculptures that get installed at sites that make them seem even more bizarre and subversive. Why is there a sculpture of Neptune, the God of the Sea, on a loading ramp in Shockoe Bottom? We are not near the ocean... so strange.
DiPasquale made the Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Avenue. Monument Avenue is a broad street with a wide park-like median dotted with huge equestrian statues of Civil War heroes like J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, and Robert E. Lee. The last lonely statue on Monument is this one of Arthur Ashe. Look at that freaky thing. It looks like they are in a bird's nest - the children want the book like it is a worm and Ashe is going to whack them with his tennis racket. Plus it looks like it is made of stale dusty chocolate, here is a better shot closer to the actual color. Why are the children standing in a hole?
My assumption was that the Ashe statue was something that the city had wanted, and that DiPasquale was one of a number of artists who submitted proposals, but in fact it appears that the entire project was initiated by DiPasquale.
Two years ago - less than one week from the opening date of this year's sculpture exhibition -Richmond was flooded by Hurricane Gaston, with Shockoe Bottom hardest hit. Weather reports had called for some rain, but the storm that arrived was totally unexpected; I think five people were killed in Shockoe Bottom. Seeing Neptune in Shockoe Bottom now is so freaking scary and weird!! A reminder that powerful forces or events can suddenly appear and just kick the shit out of you. This statue is like a memorial to the storm, an offering of respect to appease the storm god.
Reminders were everywhere -
This is a jellyfish or maybe an octopus, bowing to Neptune from across the street.
Starfish and sand-dollars and barnacles...