Deteriorating Civil War monument in Patchogue to get face-lift

Article from Newsday, here is the link for the story on News 12 Long Island:

The statue of an armed uniformed soldier has gradually decayed, but efforts are underway to save a piece of history.

The Civil War monument on Baker Street in Patchogue Village is collapsing, and officials are doing what they can to restore the historic keepsake.

The monument, depicting a soldier gripping a long rifle, was erected in 1870 and is etched with 180 names representing former residents who risked their lives during the conflict.

Village officials last week approved a measure making the structure the first addition to its long-standing historic registry.

Village Trustee Susan Brinkman, who spearheaded the initiative in November, said the designation was deserved. “It’s an amazing piece of our history,” she said.

But while officials contend the monument is something to be proud of, the structure has fallen into disrepair over the years, likely due to the brittle material from which it’s made, experts say.

The base of the white, bronze zinc statue has begun cracking, and the soldier is leaning backward, currently held up with the help of a steel ladder.

Village officials said restoration costs are about $60,000, more than half of which has been raised through donations.

Civil War veteran Edwin Bailey of Patchogue created the sculpture, which was originally placed in front of what was then Patchogue High School at Academy Street and South Ocean Avenue, village officials said. It was relocated to the front of the American Legion Hall in the 1920s.

Patchogue-based Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, a group of Civil War descendants who conduct research and re-enactments of the conflict, is raising money for repairs.

“The creation of this landmark status is instrumental in the fundraising efforts of our historic Civil War monument,” Thomas Badamo, a member of the group, wrote in a letter to village officials. “All around us history is being destroyed.”

“This monument, as well as our historic cemeteries, are in many cases the only link we have to that past,” he added.

Zinc sculptures weren’t made in the United States until the 1850s, but became popular for the remainder of the century, experts say.

They reflected cultural history during the 19th century in small towns and were customized to mirror battles of war, according to “Zinc Sculpture in America 1850-1950” by Carol A. Grissom of the Smithsonian Institution.

“While urban centers had sources of revenue enabling erection of expensive bronze monuments, small communities throughout the country could afford zinc statues purchased from trade catalogues and shipped by railroad,” wrote Grissom, one of the nation’s authorities on statues.

Village Mayor Paul Pontieri said the historic designation allows for officials to request state and federal grants to assist in restoring the monument and protects it from being removed or changed without permission.

“It’s been part of this community for over 130 years; it needs to be protected,” Pontieri said.

He added that many village streets such as Smith, Mott and Conklin are named after soldiers whose names are engraved on the statue.

“Their relatives are still here,” Pontieri said.

Those listed on the monument fought in New Orleans and Atlanta during the war, officials said.

For more information on the monument, call 631-569-1076.

Published by daves-studio

I truely believe that "Even ordinary life can be immortilized through art". I have always been awed by the mystery of how people are connected and for most of my life as an artist I have looked for new ways to express what was inside of me, what I was feeling and how I wanted people to view and understand what I wanted to say. This caused me to restrict my art to forms that others could understand. I was speaking to the masses, but I was not using my own voice. Over time I realized that it was not so important weather people truly understood what I was saying but rather that I was speaking so I started to look for the way to think out loud and be heard and have found that voice in papercutting. My work is a mixture of Eastern and Western Art that I started after a visit to China in 2004. while there I discovered the ancient and demanding art of Chinese paper cutting and line drawing. On my return from China I began to make connections between the craft of paper cutting and my years as a soldier. The results of this unusual connection have been beautiful two and three dimentional metaphors of the importance of time and the fragility of life and democracy. Paper cutting itself can be found in many cultures and just like in China those cultures for the most part have thought of it as a decorative or folk art, few artists have explored the idea of using this form of art in a more substantive way. It is part of what has attracted me to papercutting in the first place. While the beauty of paper cutting was appealing, more appealing was the idea of using this fragile material to represent serious and even realistic ideas. The process that I use for my paper structures is the same as found in traditional Chinese paper cutting. What is different is the paper, the way it is displayed and the topics talked about in the art. It is these differences in the works that make them stand out from other forms of paper cutting and structures. Instead of using traditional types of paper for papercutting I have made the cuttings out of aluminum or mirror paper. The paper was chosen for its reflective properties, not just for making the art brighter but for the ability of the viewer to see reflections of themselves in the art, showing a connection between the viewers and the subjects in the work. While most paper cutting are laid flat on the board these works are placed between two pieces of glass in the front of the frame allowing the light to cast shadows on the background, making these papercutting sculptures of art. The other aspect of this work that is different from traditional paper cutting is that each piece is individually designed and not mass produced. This is an important aspect of my work as it is about keeping the appeal of POP art while reducing the images to singular forms. My hope for the future is to continue to explore ways to bridge the techniques and styles of paper cutting and western ideals of art. Not just as a way for me to produce my art but as a way to communicate western ideas in Asia and Asian ideas in the West. For art is the only true international language that all people no matter where they come from can appreciate, and it is through art that we can learn about other cultures beyond mere words.

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