Regarding Owensboro’s Confederate Monument: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
The “baby” is the bronze soldier sculpture, an outstanding work of public art by a prominent sculptor. I actually lost sleep over Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly’s proposal to dispatch it to an isolated spot in the country possibly to be vandalized or stolen.
The “bathwater” is the granite pedestal with its tribute to the Confederacy that many of us find inappropriate on government property.
The solution: Separate the two. Send the bronze soldier statue to a local museum. Send the granite pedestal to wherever.
I know Mattingly meant well, but he and perhaps other members of Daviess County Fiscal Court did not examine the artistic value of the sculpture. While many other cities ordered cheap mass-produced zinc “junk” sculptures, Owensboro did not.
Owensboro’s bronze sculpture was the result of seven years of fundraising and the hiring of noted sculptor George Julian Zolnay.
Zolnay was paid $3,500 (Messenger-Inquirer, June 3, 1976). Adjusted for inflation, that is $110,000 in today’s money. Zolnay married a prominent Owensboro woman. His works continue to sell on the secondary art market.
The statue was cast by the New York City firm of Jno. Williams, Inc. It was the foundry of choice for dozens of prominent sculptors of the day. It made castings for the Library of Congress, the Boston Public Library and other prominent organizations.
To Fiscal Court and other interested parties, please ensure the preservation of this fine bronze sculpture that is an integral part of our community’s history.