As of December 15th 2012, the Triumph of Civic Virtue has been sitting in private property on Brooklyn’s Green-Wood cemetery on “long-term loan.”
Its removal was most publicly pushed along by efforts from former U.S. representative Anthony Weiner, and NYC councilwoman Julissa Ferreras. In a February 2011 press conference, Weiner, with Ferreras at his side, made a public show of his disdain:
Before all else, it should be recalled that these seeds of this hubris bore their bitter fruit about 4 months later: Anthony Weiner resigned from office after being caught shame-faced in a sexting scandal.
Even though Weiner admits at the outset that he is capable of seeing the statue beyond a literal interpretation, he persists upon a technically incorrect point about the design. As we point out, “Civic Virtue” is not actually stepping on the two women. Furthermore, his claim that the nature of MacMonnies’ representation is “out of step with our time” has the wrong implication. New Yorkers in the early 20th century did not especially value sculpture that was intended to promote sexism, nor do the statue’s modern day supporters.
Despite their general responsibility to oversee and maintain public property in Queens, borough president Helen Marshall and past borough president Claire Schulman did not hide their disdain of Civic Virtue, and fancied their uninformed art criticism more important than carrying out their public duty to look after one of Queens’ most valuable public works.
We, the statue’s advocates, oppose the banishment of a public work of art to a private cemetery, especially when it contains positive allegory about good government, placed in such a timely location. The statue once stood mere yards away from the halls where the corrupt Donald Manes not too long ago fell into scandal.
The statue has been allowed tragically to break down, and its fountain is no longer operational. Funds from DCAS are needed for restoration, but only money for conservation has been allotted. About 27% of New York City’s residents, many of whom pay taxes to support the restoration of art elsewhere in the city, live in Queens. This treasure sitting by many of the borough’s administrative offices has been unfairly neglected, and is in a pitiable state.
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For more information about the statue’s history, click here.
triumphofcivicvirtue.org gives a nod of approval to efforts on and offline which recognize public art in Queens, and the borough’s unique attractions in general.