“A Revolutionary Statue in Seattle”
The Statue of Lenin in Seattle is a 16 foot (5 m) bronze sculpture of Bolshevik Russian Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin located in the Fremont neighborhood. The statue was constructed by a Slovak Bulgarian sculptor, Emil Venkov, under commission from the Soviet and Czechoslovak governments. While following the bounds of his commission, Venkov intended to portray Lenin as a bringer of revolution, in contrast to the traditional portrayals of Lenin as a philosopher and educator. His Lenin marches ahead fiercely, surrounded by torrid flames and symbols of war. Venkov's work was completed and installed in Poprad, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), in 1988, shortly before the fall of Czechoslovak communism during the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Despite popular belief the Poprad Lenin was not toppled in the demonstrations during the fall of communism. Instead, it was quietly removed from Lenin's Square, in front of Poprad's main hospital, several months after the Velvet Revolution. Lewis E. Carpenter, a resident of Issaquah, Washington, who was teaching English in Poprad, found the monumental statue lying in a scrapyard ready to be sold for the price of the bronze. In close collaboration with a local journalist and good friend, Tomáš Fülöpp, Carpenter approached the city officials with a claim that despite its current unpopularity, the sculpture was still a work of art worth preserving, and he offered to buy it for $13,000. After many bureaucratic hurdles, he finally signed a contract with the mayor on March 16, 1993. Close up of the effigy With the help of the original sculptor, the statue was professionally cut into three pieces and shipped to the United States at a total cost of $41,000. Lewis Carpenter financed much of that via mortgaging his home.
When I first saw the statue of Lenin, I wondered why the hell they'd have something like that in the middle of Seattle. Turns out, it's a really interesting story - the thing is actually from Czechoslovakia. After the fall of communism, it was removed from Lenin's Square and taken to a scrapyard. An American English teacher in Poprad found it, bought it for 13K, and shipped it home to Seattle where it's been since. Pretty neat.
It's not uncommon to see Lenin dressed up for different holidays, but seeing him decked out in feather boas for Pride is the absolute best.
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