Civic Virtue

At its June 13, 2006, full Board Meeting, Community Board No. 9 unanimously voted to support the restoration of the "Civic Virtue."

This grand statue was designed by sculptor Frederick MacMonnies, the same artist responsible for great public works of art such as the grand arch at Washington Square Park. The sculpture was moved in 1941, by the Parks Department, from City Hall Park to its home at the base of municipal power in Queens. "Civic Virtue" no longer graces the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike because it has been allowed to deteriorate for decades. It is difficult to understand that within the same city, two works of art, by the same Master, could have such divergent fates.

"Civic Virtue's" artistic value can be argued and critiqued for decades to come but for the time being it has come to our attention that the monument has shamefully been allowed to deteriorate and will soon become public safety hazard. When we relegate works of public art to demolition by neglect because of art content we are allowing art to suffer because we are offended by the imagery and allegory of violence perpetrated upon serpents and mermaids representing corruption. Do corrupt mermaids and serpents have such a strong lobby? If such sad state of affairs is representative of our judgment of public art, we ought now consider removing all carousels from City parks because of the bondage and subjugation implied by much of that imagery. Indeed, if we are to be so sensitive, we may even revisit the naming of this Borough, again.

Public safety is now jeopardized by the deteriorated condition of this work of art. Community Board No. 9 has requested funding for this restoration project and we encourage the public to support our efforts by lobbying our elected officials to release funds to restore this work of art. Help us restore "Civic Virtue."

Ivan Mrakovcic, R.A.