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j 107-41 107th Street • Ozone Park, New York 11417-2316
June 5, 2014
Ms. Signe Nielsen
Public Design Commission of the City of New York
City Hall, Third Floor
New York, New York 10007
Mr. Richard Moylan
500 25th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11232
Re: Demand to correct false information on sign installed by
Green-Wood Cemetery pertaining to the public art statue
Triumph of Civic Virtue
Dear Ms. Nielsen and Mr. Moylan:
On November 13, 2012, the Public Design Commission of the City of New York
("PDC") voted to authorize the controversial temporary loan and relocation of the 22-ton
colossal public art statue named "Triumph of Civic Virtue" ("Civic Virtue") from the site on
Queens Boulevard where it had been publicly displayed for 71 years, to Green-Wood Cemetery
("Green-Wood") in Brooklyn. One month later, Civic Virtue was removed from Queens to
Although the PDC approved the temporary loan of Civic Virtue to Green-Wood, the PDC
certainly never envisioned – let alone approved – that Green-Wood would install an
informational sign in front of Civic Virtue, that re-writes history and conveys false and
misleading information to those who visit Civic Virtue at Green-Wood. But that is precisely
what Green-Wood has done.
We write to demand that Green-Wood immediately remove the plainly inaccurate and
offensive sign, and that the prospective text of any replacement sign first be subject to a public
hearing and comment period under the auspices of the PDC; and subject to PDC approval. We
note that New York City Charter § 857(a) provides in relevant part that the PDC "shall have
general advisory oversight over all works of art belonging to the city." It is in that capacity that
we request that the PDC intercede in this matter, to prevent the ongoing presentation of City-
owned artwork in a false and misleading context.
The sign at issue, which Green-Wood has installed directly in front of Civic Virtue,
conveys two patently and demonstrably false points: (1.) that the City of New York "could not
afford to conserve" Civic Virtue and was "without the funds to do so"; and (2.) that the City
could not afford the conservation expense because Civic Virtue "lacked the support of local
officials". Those statements only promulgate the self-serving, false narrative that Green-Wood
has concocted around Civic Virtue, and they could not be further from the truth.
First, it was indeed the City taxpayers who paid $49,464.00 for "all labor, materials and
equipment necessary for the conservation of the Civic Virtue sculpture," per the City's Request
for Proposals pertaining to that work and the response of Kreilick Conservation, LLC, which was
awarded the job. Indeed, the press has already reported that the "Public paid to repair statue of
Civic Virtue." Moreover, the City not only had adequate funds ($49,464.00) to pay for the
repair and conservation of Civic Virtue, but the City also made available an additional
$49,801.00 to pay for the design and "fabrication of a custom armature for Civic Virtue" for the
purpose of transporting the statue from Queens Boulevard to Green-Wood, per the City's
Request for Proposals pertaining to that work and the response of Surroundart, LLC, which was
awarded the job. Thus, the City has actually spent a total of $99,265.00 to both conserve Civic
Virtue and to fabricate a custom armature to facilitate its relocation – the latter of which and its
expense would have been unnecessary had Civic Virtue remained on Queens Boulevard. In fact,
the City was able to, and actually did, spend twice the cost of conserving Civic Virtue.
Therefore, the information that appears on the sign installed by Green-Wood – that the City of
New York "could not afford to conserve" Civic Virtue and was "without the funds to do so" – is
Second, Green-Wood's claim that Civic Virtue "lacked the support of local officials" is
belied by the numerous well-documented press conferences, statements and letters of local
elected officials who did support Civic Virtue, and moreover, who wanted Civic Virtue to
remain on display on Queens Boulevard instead of being loaned to Green-Wood. Such officials
included but were not limited to City Council member Elizabeth Crowley, then-City Council
member Peter Vallone Jr., New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., Queens Community
Board 9 then-Chair Andrea Crawford and Queens Community Board 9 District Manager Mary
The following is the portion of the sign's text that contains the false and misleading information
to which we object: "Civic Virtue fell into disrepair. The City of New York, charged with maintaining the
public art in its collections, could not afford to conserve a monument that lacked the support of local
officials. Committed to preserving Civic Virtue but without funds to do so, the City acted on its obligation
as steward of its collections. The statue portion of Civic Virtue was moved to Green-Wood on long-term
loan, a public-private partnership that enabled the art work to be conserved and (paradoxically) brought
back to life." Authorship of the sign's text is attributed to "Michelle H. Bogart, Stony Brook University,
See the Request for Proposals, the response of Kreilick Conservation, LLC, and associated
documents; duplicate attached hereto as Attachment A.
See Anuta, Joe. 2013. Public paid to repair statue of Civic Virtue. Times Ledger, July 13;
duplicate attached hereto as Attachment B.
See the Request for Proposals, the response of Surroundart, LLC, and associated documents;
duplicate attached hereto as Attachment C.
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• "The controversial statue … has strong supporters who have been
lobbying the city unsuccessfully for years to get it cleaned and restored.
'We sort of spearheaded this endeavor,' said Ivan Mrakovic, a member of
Community Board 9 who heads the Richmond Hill Historical Society.
'Pretending we don't exist is unreal.'" – Colangelo, Lisa L. 2012. Local
leaders charge city snubbing them on possible Triumph of Civic Virtue
move. New York Daily News, July 25; duplicate attached hereto as
• "'Hopefully during the process we can convince the city … to restore the
statue to its former glory at its current location,' [City Council member
Peter] Vallone [Jr.] said. 'That's what Queens wants.'" – Colangelo, Lisa L.
2012. Local leaders charge city snubbing them on possible Triumph of
Civic Virtue move. New York Daily News, July 25; duplicate attached
hereto as Attachment D.
• "Boro leaders want 'Civic Virtue' to remain in Queens … City Council
members Peter Vallone Jr. and Liz Crowley join community members
protesting the city's decision to remove the 'Triumph of Civic Virtue'
statue from its location near Queens Borough Hall. … Community Board
9 Chairwoman Andrea Crawford said the board was never contacted about
the move, but had members been asked, they would have been
resoundingly against it. 'Everybody knows Community Board 9 wants to
keep Queens public art public,' she said. … Vallone said he would like the
city 'not only to leave it here, but restore it here.'" – Bockmann, Rich.
2012. Boro leaders want 'Civic Virtue' to remain in Queens. Times Ledger,
December 13; duplicate attached hereto as Attachment E.
• "'We're outraged that the community that has been so involved in fighting
for [Civic Virtue's] preservation has not been consulted,' said Andrea
Crawford, chairwoman of Community Board 9." – Colangelo, Lisa L.
2012. Secret plan would move the controversial Civic Virtue statue from
Queens to Brooklyn. New York Daily News, July 18; duplicate attached
hereto as Attachment F.
Please be advised that there continues to be support among local officials for Civic
Virtue – and now, for the statue's return to Queens Boulevard.
* * *
Given that Green-Wood is enjoying a temporary loan of the Civic Virtue public artwork
that was repaired and conserved at taxpayer expense, the least that Green-Wood must do is to
display the artwork in an accurately-described historical context. The existing sign that Green-
Wood Cemetery has installed to acquaint visitors with Civic Virtue is an insult to the
expenditures of taxpayer dollars and to the investments of time and energy by officials who
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supported (and continue to support) Civic Virtue; and that sign therefore must immediately be
Please inform us of any action that you will take in connection with the above-described
inaccurate sign. Please address all correspondence to:
Civic Virtue Task Force
j Richard Iritano
107-41 107th Street
Ozone Park, New York 11417-2316
Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. We look forward to your
Mary Ann Carey, District Manager, Queens Community Board 9
Ralph Gonzalez, Chairperson, Queens Community Board 9
Richard Iritano, activist
Robert LoScalzo, activist and documentary video producer
Jon Torodash, activist and founder of www.triumphofcivicvirtue.org
6 enclosures (Attachments A-F)
cc: Interested press and media
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