1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Dear Mr. Espinoza:
In its meeting of 20 April, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for a new statue by sculptor Steven Weitzman to commemorate the late District of Columbia Mayor Marion S. Barry, Jr., to be installed at the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The Commission approved the concept design and provided the following comments.
The Commission members expressed support for the proposed statue as a good likeness of Mayor Barry, who would be suitably honored in a prominent location at the Wilson Building; they observed that the new statue should complement the existing statue of Alexander “Boss” Shepherd at the northwestern corner of the building. They expressed a strong preference for the larger, eight-foot-high alternative as the appropriate scale for this commemorative sculpture. For the best presentation of the statue, they recommended that it be located farther eastward, at the corner of the property, where it would be more prominent and removed from other distracting elements—such as signs, light poles, plantings, and windows—that intrude on the proposed location. If necessary, they supported the removal of a single tree to create the best setting for the statue. They also endorsed the general idea of keeping the sculpture lower to the ground, without a traditional high pedestal, but they found the proposed design of the base—a map in multi-colored terrazzo—to be typologically odd and of a different artistic character than the realistic bronze statue. Instead, they suggested that the design of the base be reconceived to be related to the stone base of the building, in fewer materials and with a more vertical presentation of the quotation for legibility.
The Commission encourages the use of public art to enhance civic space and looks forward to further review of this project. Please coordinate with the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Arthur Espinoza, Jr., Executive Director
D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities
200 I Street, SE, Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20003
cc: Steven Weitzman, Weitzman Studios