Tuesday, April 29, 2014
At a artist workshop at Urban ReThink, someone asked why there is tiny 8 foot tall, Statue of Liberty, at the intersection of North Orange and Magnolia Avenues on the shore of Lake Ivanhoe. I've passed this oddity many times and never given it a thought. It isn't a very creative choice for a public sculpture. It makes it seem like Orlando idolizes gift shop trinkets. This town seems to want to be something for everybody. Like Epcot, we don't feel the need to travel the world to see the rel thing. The proportions on the tiny statue are a bit off. The extra large torch Lady Liberty is holding makes her seem a bit child like. The money invested in the rock work and gadening alone must have cost a fortune. The Kiwanis Club of Orlando paid for the base.
The statue was donated to the city in 1953 by the Central Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America. It was one of about 200 such replicas installed across the nation in the 1950s through a Boy Scout program called "Strengthening the Arm of Liberty," The program was part of the Scouts' 40th anniversary celebrations it replaced a big orange concrete ball supported by two stilt-like pillars, built by the Works Progress Administration sometime between 1934 and 1936 that quickly became a victim of graffiti. It must have been a reminder of Orlando's Citrus industry. The ball, by the way, was moved to a fruit stand in Maitland and later destroyed. A new ten foot high ball shaped sculpture was recently installed at the Orlando County Regional History Center.
.The statue was refurbished in the mid-1980s. She seems to have survived any touch of graffiti and the shrubbery is neatly clipped. Robert G. Neel, president of Woodlawn Memorial Park and Funeral Home, led efforts to restore the statue, which he first noticed while stopped at a traffic light.
This is a busy intersection and I got to stare at each new driver that had to stop at the stop light. Each driver looked at me like I was a mad man. During the hour or so that I was sketching, one pedestrian did walk by on her way to the bus stop. She took quite an interest in what I was doing, and she even had advice on where I could find a better camping stool. A ramp behind the stature leads up to Interstate 4 and the cars are always lined up, rushing to get on Orlando's primary artery.