Here is the design chosen to replace the statue of Columbus in New Haven


NEW HAVEN – Where Christopher Columbus once held the globe in his hand for 128 years in Wooster Square, the city may soon see a boy, his older sister and their parents, newly arrived in America from Italy and cast in bronze, luggage in hand, pointing to their future in a new country.

The image resolutely turned towards the future – currently a bronze model in scale one sixth by Branford sculptor Marc-Anthony Massaro – is the first choice of the Wooster Square monument committee. It is now the responsibility of the Alder Council and three other city agencies.

The committee chose Massaro – who is no stranger to Wooster Square – and his design, entitled “Indicando la via al futuro”, among what had been six and then three finalists.

His work will fill the void that has existed since the city, with the blessing of two Italian-American cultural organizations, brought down Columbus last year amid the Black Lives Matter protests that followed the murder of George Floyd.

The Christopher Columbus statue was removed from Wooster Square Park in New Haven, Connecticut on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 (Peter Hvizdak / Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Peter Hvizdak / Associated press

This decision has sparked repeated protests from both sides. The monument committee tried to make the selection process a healing process while sticking to its cultural goal of honoring the Italian-American immigrants who have made up much of the fabric of the region over the decades.

“We are very comfortable with the way the process went,” said William Iovanne, co-chair of the Wooster Square monument committee. “We’ve been very public about it. “

He is also delighted with the design of Massaro.

“I think the committee felt their proposal illustrated the story we are telling – that is, the story of Italian immigration,” said Iovanne. “His sculpture is amazing.”

The Historic District Commission, the Cultural Affairs Commission, the Parks Commission and ultimately the Alder Council must approve the choice before the project can proceed – although Massaro has said he was already starting work on a full-size version, first sculpted in epoxy before being cast in bronze.

Members of the Alder, Cultural Affairs and Parks Commission were on the committee, Iovanne said.

“We are looking at around 18 months of manufacturing and design, as well as the design of the landscaping,” said Iovanne, adding that “this is pretty close to our original schedule”.

“We may be looking for a reduction in the height of the existing base” because the proposed new statue of four people would be taller than the statue of Christopher Columbus, Iovanne said. “In addition, we would like to remove the fence. “

The base of the Christopher Columbus statue remains in Wooster Square in New Haven on April 30, 2021 after the statues are removed in June 2020.

The base of the Christopher Columbus statue remains in Wooster Square in New Haven on April 30, 2021 after the statues are removed in June 2020.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Massaro “will work with a landscaper and all the people necessary to make the project a reality,” said Iovanne. The cost is expected to be “around $ 300,000 to $ 350,000” with the money to be collected privately, he said.

Massaro, from New Haven, grew up in the house next to Archie Moore’s on Willow Street in the Goatville section of East Rock – and remembers seeing Archie Moore himself as a child. he declared Monday. He runs the Branford Art Studio.

Massaro’s grandfather, Italian immigrant Frank Consiglio, arrived in 1918, lived in Wooster Square and was the uncle of Sally Apizza founder Salvatore Consiglio, he said. (And yes, he and his family could walk right into Sally’s, the place of many family gatherings, without standing in line, he said.)

When asked if this project was different for him from the many other projects he has been involved in, Massaro said, “It’s radically different” from previous projects.

“… As a professional artist, I have spent most of my career – and we’re talking about almost 40 years at this point – primarily as a portrait painter,” he said. “I have painted so many people and in so many contexts. I do, and when it’s presented people are happy – and it’s always an emotional experience. As an artist, these are very moving experiences. But as an artist it’s nothing compared to what I’m involved in now.

A one-sixth scale model of the drawing by Branford sculptor Marc-Anthony Massaro, titled,

A one-sixth scale model of Branford sculptor Marc-Anthony Massaro’s drawing, titled “Indicando la via al futuro”, which the Wooster Square monument committee chose to replace the statue of Christopher Columbus which was removed from Wooster Square in 2020. Massaro’s grandfather was an Italian immigrant who arrived in 1918 and settled in the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven.

Marc-Anthony Massaro / Photo contribution

It is because when he thinks about this project he thinks: “My grandfather came here 100 years ago, and now his grandson is making this monument” to the experiences of his grandfather, brothers with who he’s been here and many others, “and it’s a deeply, deeply emotional experience.

“When I look at the sculpture, after creating it, I see my own family,” Massaro said.

He told the committee that he viewed the father as a symbol of strength; the mother as a nurturer; the daughter, who carries a book, representing education, and the son perhaps pointing to the future.

In his interview with the committee, he called his period-clad immigrant family a “celebration of the human spirit.” … It is a picture of joy and anticipation of new life … the endless opportunities that are available in America.

Massaro also believes that the monument is not only about the Italian-American experience, but also reflects the experiences of many other ethnicities.

“Yes, it’s a monument to the experience of Italian-American immigrants, but it goes much further,” he said. “… This exposes a common thread that is much broader. “

He previously told the committee that when he first saw what the committee was looking for, his response was “peace and healing must prevail here,” given the community split on the statue.

The base of the Christopher Columbus statue on Wooster Square in New Haven pictured on June 29, 2020.

The base of the Christopher Columbus statue on Wooster Square in New Haven pictured on June 29, 2020.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Asked about this commonality, Iovanne said, “We hope people feel this. We saw this as an opportunity to tell our story, but our story is not that different from other cultures. “

Speaking of Wooster Square, he said: “It has always been a diverse neighborhood – never more diverse than it is now.”

Massaro also said that he couldn’t help but be moved, knowing that the statue of Christopher Columbus had remained in Wooster Square for 128 years, that “everything that happens there now is going to stay there for a very long time. It is a very humiliating thing for me.

“Each of us, except the natives who were on the continent, traces our lineage elsewhere,” he said. “How everyone got here” reflects “difficulties on so many levels. But at the end of the day, we’re all here, trying to go through life, trying to live in harmony. “

The current design does not include references to the experience of Native Americans or most African Americans, whose families do not share the same consensual and / or immigrant experience.

In addition to the sculpture itself, Massaro is working on the four four-by-six-foot metal panels the committee requested, with information “regarding Italian-Americans at all levels.” The stories and photographs will be engraved on the plaques, double-sided, which could be granite or marble, he said.

“I have a huge amount of work ahead of me,” Massaro said. “The approval of the project is certainly a step forward, but there are many more steps to come.”

Just over a year ago, on June 24, 2020, New Haven – like many cities across the country – New Haven shot down its statue of Christopher Columbus in Wooster Square amid a dramatic change in Black-fueled protests. Lives Matter punctuated by a few last minutes of name calling, a lot of hurt feelings and calls for healing from all sides.

Earlier this year, an 11-member sub-committee applied for the qualification of local artists to work with the committee’s suggestions on the privately funded project.

The goal has been to turn the initial ideas into something that will be meaningful to both Italian-Americans who trace their family history to the region – including those who felt despised by the way Columbus came down – and for those who called for the removal of the original statue.

The Christopher Columbus statue was removed from Wooster Square park on June 24, 2020 after an early morning skirmish erupted between people with opposing views.  Later, with a strong police presence, hundreds of people gathered to witness the removal of the monument and demonstrate against racism.  The statue was first erected in 1892, then recast in bronze in 1955.

The Christopher Columbus statue was removed from Wooster Square park on June 24, 2020 after an early morning skirmish erupted between people with opposing views. Later, with a strong police presence, hundreds of people gathered to witness the removal of the monument and demonstrate against racism. The statue was first erected in 1892, then recast in bronze in 1955.

Peter Hvizdak / Hearst Connecticut Photo Media File

Among the artists the subcommittee and committee examined in addition to Massaro were Atelier Cue, a partnership between Ioana Barac and Marissa Dionne Mead; David Gesualdi; Tony Falcone; Jonathan and Joshua Kuhr, and Richard Ramadei. Atelier Cue and the Kuhrs were the other finalists.

The selection subcommittee, in its solicitation of artists, clarified that the piece would focus on the experience of Italian-American immigrants, but left it up to the artists to interpret how best to achieve this goal.

The Wooster Square monument, pictured on Wednesday July 7, 2021, is a stone plinth without a statue at the top since the Columbus statue fell on June 24, 2020.

The Wooster Square monument, pictured on Wednesday July 7, 2021, is a stone plinth without a statue at the top since the Columbus statue fell on June 24, 2020.

Mark Zaretsky / Hearst Connecticut Media

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