Education in Oakland

Will Oakland Get the Bronze?

Posted by novometro on August 28, 2006

If all goes according to Mario Chiodo’s plan tonight, Oakland will take a step closer to becoming the home of the largest bronze sculpture west of the Mississippi.

The city’s Cultural Affairs Commission is expected to vote Monday evening on Mr. Chiodo’s massive artwork, “Remember Them,” a $3.5-million, 52-feet tall, bronze tribute to 25 “champions for humanity,” including Nelson Mandela, Franklin Roosevelt, and Gandhi.

No matter what you think of the statue, which is heavy and imposing, you have to hand it to Mr. Chiodo, a forty-five year old Oakland artist who made a fortune designing Halloween masks and casino art, for building consensus around a controversial piece of public art in a fractious town that takes its champions of humanity seriously.  “What do you mean Upton Sinclair isn’t there?” “Where’s Huey?”

He also managed to craft a rather unique private financing method that means the city won’t pay for the sculpture or its maintenance at its location in the new Uptown development between Telegraph and San Pablo next to the Fox Theater.  Kaiser and other corporate donors have agreed to pony up for the monument.  And Mr. Chiodo reckons that proceeds from “Remember Them” merchandise will be more than enough to pay the estimated annual $11,900 cleaning bill.

If the CAC votes to accept Mr. Chiodo’s gift, the matter will move to City Council.  Who among those “champions of humanity” will cast a vote against Maya Angelou and Chief Joseph?  See a model of the sculpture in Fox Park Square here.


One Response to “Will Oakland Get the Bronze?”

  1. This is interesting, although a statue of heroes is hardly innovative or thought-provoking (and your point about its heaviness is well taken). For example, there is the composite of local heroines in the City Hall plaza (although perhaps it’s been moved since it was installed several years ago. now that I think about it).

    So, why does the city council have to vote on it if there is no public money involved? Do our elected and appointed officials have veto power over all public art? Or is it because the Uptown park is going to be a public park?

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