Zenos Frudakis, the Glenside-based sculptor of the Frank Rizzo statue in front of the Municipal Services Building, has weighed in on the fate of his creation in a letter to the Philadelphia Art Commission and the Inquirer.
In case you haven’t heard, there has been a little controversy, and people all across the city are weighing in on the statue’s future. If any decision is made regarding the statue, Frudakis will have to be given 30 days’ notice. He chose to beat the city to the punch.
Frudakis wrote that “I do not see the need for moving this sculpture,” and that he was “alarmed about what appears to be a willingness to associate the two-term mayor of a major city with traitorous leaders of the Confederacy.”
Frudakis could not immediately be reached for comment.
If the statue is relocated — a decision that will be made by city officials after a recommendation by the Art Commission — Frudakis warned that it may be damaged in the process. “The sculpture was installed with stainless steel structures beneath it that will make it very difficult to remove,” he wrote, offering to consult on any such move to prevent damage.
In addition to the Rizzo statue, Frudakis is also represented in the city with sculptures of Mike Schmidt, Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, and Steve Carlton at Citizens Bank Park, the “Freedom” statue at 16th and Vine Streets, and bas-reliefs of former Mayor Richardson Dilworth at the airport and former U.S. Rep. Tom Foglietta in Washington Square. Frudakis also has four statues in New Jersey, one of singer Nina Simone in Tryon, N.C., and five busts of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He has done a dozen other portrait busts, including former Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr., former City Council President Joseph Coleman, and abolitionist/author Frederick Douglass.
The full text of his letter is included below.
To the Art Commission:
As the sculptor of the Frank Rizzo statue, I am writing to request to be part of the conversation regarding the future of the sculpture in a thorough and reasoned manner, not a rush to judgment, which could be a big mistake. I am alarmed about what appears to be a willingness to associate the two-term mayor of a major city with traitorous leaders of the Confederacy. I think it is outrageous to create this straw man argument to move a bronze sculpture.
In my opinion, I do not see the need for moving this sculpture. Consider that three African American mayors of Philadelphia did not see the need for the sculpture to be removed during their tenure.
If the majority of Philadelphians and the powers that be want this sculpture removed and relocated, I am available to lend my expertise so that the sculpture is not damaged in the move. The sculpture was installed with stainless steel structures beneath it that will make it very difficult to remove. If it is to be moved, those in charge need to be in touch with those who cast it, Laran Bronze in Chester, Pa., and those who installed it, George Young Co., for consultation so it is removed with the least amount of property damage and so no individuals are injured in the process.
I welcome a thorough and in-depth conversation on these subjects.