Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Let's Take This Show on the Road

I wrote yesterday about the "Discovering Columbus" exhibit, which gave a fresh look at a polarizing monument perched high above a bustling plaza.

Those same ingredients exist in San Francisco's Union Square, home to a statue of a trident-wielding woman called Winged Victory.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Like the Columbus statue, Winged Victory is more than 75 feet in the air. That means no one ever gets to see her up close.

Photo courtesy of FoundSF.

And just like the New York statue (which honors a man who ushered in centuries of devastation for the Native American population), the Union Square monument commemorates an arguably shameful event in our history.

From the FoundSF site:
At the turn of the century the Square underwent a major design change, largely due to San Francisco's role in the Spanish American War of 1898. At this time the city became a major naval port and the embarkation center for troops sent to the Philippines. After the war, there was a movement to erect a monument commemorating the destruction of the Spanish Fleet in Manila Bay by Commodore Dewey's squadron on May 1, 1898. 
Designed by sculptor Robert I. Aitken and architect Newton J. Tharp, the Dewey Monument consisted of a 79-foot-tall granite shaft, surmounted by an 18-foot-high pedestal adorned with a bronzed figure of a woman dubbed "Winged Victory." In one hand she bears a trident, the symbol of Poseidon and of naval victory, and in the other hand, a laurel wreath, also a symbol of victory.
Victory over the Spanish led to the U.S. annexing the Philippines, which turned our nation into a colonial power  something America had no business being.

I would guess that most San Franciscans are wholly ignorant of this statue and what it signifies. That's why it would be great to give it the "Discovering Columbus" treatment.

To encourage artist Tatzu Nishi to bring his idea out west, I'm even done a mock-up of what it would look like.

Here's a more decorated version.

What do you say, Tatzu? Let's make this happen.