Zenos Frudakis, the man who made Rizzo, or at least his one-ton bronze likeness on the steps of the Municipal Services Building plaza, is disappointed that the city has decided to remove the sculpture without consulting him in any meaningful way.
“I don’t know who the powers that be are that decided this,” Frudakis said as he was driving to New York for an annual dinner honoring Mark Twain. “Who has the power to remove the mayor? I’m disappointed.”
Rizzo, it turns out, was Frudakis’ “first sculpture of a man in a suit,” he says. “Someone from the city should have called me. I’ve done more free-standing sculpture than anyone in the city. I know a lot about it.”
For the record, the city said it called Frudakis on Wednesday to let him know and hear any concerns he might have.
Lauren Hitt, Mayor Kenney’s spokeswoman, said Frudakis “thanked us for letting [him] know and offered to help in any way we might need moving forward.”
Frudakis said he had some concern for the safety of the piece. It’s big, and it’s heavy.
“It’s a tricky thing to take out,” he said. “You don’t want it to fall on anyone.”
But mostly Frudakis is disappointed by what he sees as a “lost opportunity to educate” people about who Rizzo was and how he was viewed differently by different groups of people.
“You could put up plaques telling people there are different opinions about him,” Frudakis said. “You could put up another sculpture of someone else from a different political place. You know, I could do it. I’d be happy to do it. I’m from a different political place.”
But what “really bothers” Frudakis is his belief that the Rizzo sculpture should not be considered in the same context as Confederate generals.
“They were traitors to America.” he said. “Frank Rizzo was not a traitor to America.”
Said Frudakis: “I’m not defending Frank Rizzo as a person, the racial polarizing and all that. It was a different time. You had Spiro Agnew, Nixon. … This thing could be used for education. But you’ve got to be very respectful when you move it, respectful to the majority of people who voted for him. I think this decision should be put off till we pass through all this discussion about Confederate sculptures. That bothers me.”