Triumph of Civic Virtue Task Force announces initiative to return the newly-cleaned Civic Virtue statue to its Queens Boulevard home; demands immediate removal of false information from sign installed in front of Civic Virtue by Green-Wood cemetery
Contact: Richard Iritano / Civic Virtue Task Force
Queens community activists and art appreciators have formed the “Civic Virtue Task Force” to plan and advocate for the return of the newly-cleaned and conserved Triumph of Civic Virtue statue from Green-Wood Cemetery, where it was moved temporarily in 2012, back to its home on Queens Boulevard where it had been on display for 71 years. The Task Force has met with representatives of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and has inspected the colossal statue at the cemetery where it is on temporary loan.
“Civic Virtue really sparkles and shines now. It must be seen to be believed. The cleaning has done wonders for it,” remarked Task Force member and activist Richard Iritano upon seeing Civic Virtue at Green-Wood cemetery. “Now that this public art has been restored at taxpayer expense, it needs to be put back on display on Queens Boulevard so the public can enjoy what our tax dollars have accomplished – not banished to a graveyard among the dead.”
At present, the Civic Virtue Task Force counts among its members Mary Ann Carey (District Manager, Queens Community Board 9), Ralph Gonzalez (Chairperson, Queens Community Board 9), Richard Iritano (activist), Robert LoScalzo (documentary media producer who sued the City in 2013 to obtain Civic Virtue records) and Jon Torodash (activist and founder of www.triumphofcivicvirtue.org). The Task Force has the support of City Council member Elizabeth Crowley.
On June 5, 2014, the Task Force sent letters to Green-Wood President Richard Moylan and to Public Design Commission President Signe Nielsen, demanding that Green-Wood immediately remove its false and misleading sign, and that any prospective replacement sign be subject to a public hearing and approval by the Public Design Commission.
Meanwhile, the Task Force is not only advocating the return of Civic Virtue to Queens Boulevard, but also wants the statue’s fountain base there to be repaired and the fountain to be turned on every day as an accessory to the restored statue. “The plumbing infrastructure is all there and in decent condition,” says Queens Community Board 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey. “It would require some maintenance, and then the water can be turned back on.”
A newly-restored Civic Virtue statue returned to a functioning fountain base on Queens Boulevard would be a sight to behold – and far superior to the plan already shown by the City for the Queens Boulevard site, which leaves the fountain inoperative as a mere “planted ruin.”
At a meeting held at Queens Borough Hall on April 8, 2014, the Civic Virtue Task Force met with Barry Grodenchik of the Queen Borough President’s Office and Nayelli Valencia, the Office’s Director of Cultural Affairs and Tourism. The Task Force advocated for the return of Civic Virtue to the Queens Boulevard site, and against the City’s preposterous plan to leave the site as a planted ruin. The discussion also touched on the fact that Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is promoting the restoration of the 1964 World’s Fair New York State Pavillion, with an estimated cost of $40 million – but Civic Virtue, which is already restored, can be returned to display on Queens Boulevard for just a small fraction of that cost – perhaps $100,000.00. In that sense, Civic Virtue is low-hanging fruit, and its return to Queens arguably should be prioritized. Its presence again on Queens Boulevard, this time accessorized by a functioning fountain base, would provide a spectacular new image for the Borough of Queens and would enhance public appreciation of sculptural art.
In the eight weeks since the meeting at Borough Hall, neither Mr. Grodenchik nor Ms. Valencia has returned multiple telephone voicemails seeking to follow up and ascertain whether or not Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will support the efforts of the Task Force. As we see it, Ms. Katz has before her a golden opportunity to help correct the wrong that was done when Civic Virtue was evicted from Queens, against the will of the residents of Kew Gardens and beyond – and we hope that Ms. Katz will recognize the importance of taking action on this worthy cause. In any case, the Task Force will work to garner the support of as many officials and residents as possible.
Triumph of Civic Virtue is expected to be a topic during the upcoming meeting of Queens Community Board 9 on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 7:45PM, to be held at Majestic Marquise, 88-03 101 Avenue, Ozone Park, New York 11416.