Arts & Culture

Top Bizarre Statues Or Public Art In Hartford

October 1, 2012 6:00 AM

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(credit: chs.org)

(credit: chs.org)

In art, bizarre is a relative term that plays a large part in the creation and understanding, not to mention the creator. With so many public sculptures and works of art, who is to say a piece is bizarre or unusual? In a quest to scour the Hartford area and find five bizarre works of art that define unusual or unexpected, the following list is the result. Check them all out to determine the most bizarre.
“Confucius” by Provincial People’s Government of Shandong Province
12 Trinity St.
Hartford, CT 06106
www.ctmuseumquest.com

What’s more fittingly bizarre than a statue of “Confucius smack dab in the middle of the Constitution State’s capitol district? You expect to see memorials and statues of Revolutionary War heroes and founding fathers of our country in the fifth state of the union and one of the original 13 colonies. But a 6th-century philosopher from halfway around the world, what gives? Well, in 1986, Connecticut entered a sister state/providence relationship with the Provincial People’s Government of Shandong Province in the People’s Republic of China. On the 20th anniversary of this relationship, the two decided to exchange art in the form of statues of local influencers. So, China received a bust of Mark Twain and Connecticut received a nine-foot bronze statue of Confucius. While it was fitting because the relationship and the exchange of art were both promoting the harmonious development of society (a Confucianism concept), it is still bizarre.

Quenticut by Clyde Lynds
Riverfront Plaza
300 Columbus Blvd.
Hartford, CT 06103
www.hsb.com

Long before the Europeans inhabited the land later know as Connecticut, the natives called the area the land of the “long tidal river,” or “Quenticut.” In honor of this heritage, a work of art was commissioned to adorn the newly opened Riverfront Plaza in 1999. While the oval-shaped artwork is interesting, it’s not until dusk that the unexpected traits appear. By day, the work looks to be a concrete and steel structure, but once the sun sets, the fiber optics become apparent. The creator, Clyde Lynds, designed a display of luminary fiber-optic fish that represent their ocean maturation and return to the Connecticut River for spawning. While it is a unique and fitting way to connect the Riverfront Plaza to the river below, it is still bizarre.

Related: Familiarize With Founders: Important Places To The People Who Built Connecticut

Forlorn Soldier by James G. Batterson
119 Airport Road
Hartford, CT 06114
www.chs.org

Sure, errors happen in life. But what do you do when you mess up a statue? Not only is the 1895 “Forlorn Soldier” statue bizarre because of its erroneous posture, but its modern day location is also quite bizarre. While the statue is a typical Civil War soldier monument standing at rest and badly deteriorating, apparently it was left behind by a local monument company because the wrong foot was forward (the right foot rather than the left). Most Civil War statues were made of granite, so the fact that it was brownstone is also unique. In addition, the name on the plaque is “DUM TACET CLAMAT.” Perhaps that is gibberish for the 19th century (think of today’s Lorem Ipsum) or maybe it was really his name. To top things off, that statue’s location is basically underneath I-91 in Hartford’s South Meadows industrial area.

“Harvest Gate” by David Boyajian
Near 881 Main St. (between Pratt St. and Asylum St)
Hartford, CT 06103
www.davidboyajian.com/harvestgate

Here’s a quirky idea: create a work of art with a donation box in it. In 1994, Leadership Greater Hartford’s Hunger Task Force commissioned sculptor David Boyajian to create a work that was “purposefully designed to raise awareness and funds concerning the issue of hunger in the greater Hartford area.” Standing on Main Street, “Harvest Gate” acts as a gateway to a parking area. People are encouraged to pass through the 20-foot steel gate, over which symbols of the harvest adorn and dropping change into the donation box located along one side is encouraged. While its interesting passageway provides an unexpected and inspirational function, it is quite bizarre.

“Stone Field Sculpture by Carl Andre
675 Main St.
Hartford, CT 06103
www.ctmuseumquest.com

Not by coincidence, 36 boulders are situated in a triangle shape right across the street from the Wadsworth Atheneum and adjacent to the Hartford Ancient Burial Ground. In 1977, Carl Andre, a prominent yet controversial artist and sculptor, was given $87,000 by the Hartford Foundation of Public Giving/National Endowment of the Arts to create a work of art. The result was “Stone Field Sculpture.” The rocks, made of sandstone, brownstone, granite, schist, gneiss, basalt and serpentine, sit in eight parallel rows forming a 290-foot base area to the triangle. It’s easy to miss and unless you knew it was art, you may think they were stones left on the lawn from an excavation. According to the artist, “the sculpture represents New England’s geological history and its juxtaposition next to the Center Church graveyard is intended to underscore the relationship of human time and geological time.” However, if you asked many locals, they’d just say it’s bizarre.

Related: Top Up-and-Coming Artists In Connecticut

Edward Main is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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