Tuesday, May 26, 2009
She stands tall and triumphant in front of the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse. The courthouse, which was built in 2000, contains the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit which comprises Hillsborough County (of which Tampa is the county seat.) No one can pass this lady without noticing. I think she speaks to everyone who passes her way - in and out of courtrooms – lawyers, judges, bailiffs, judges and yes, the accused for sure. She speaks loudly and with force. How to describe the sculpture in a word? Magnificent. If I’m allowed a second word, she’s gorgeous. Veritas et Justitia is the formal name given the statue by the internationally-known artist, Audrey Flack. Calling her Lady Justice just does not do her justice. Plus she’s so wonderfully different than so many others who grace courthouse entrances and the tops of buildings, giving a sense of justice and fairness to our legal system. She perfectly represents balance and equality...in her own classy way. A contemporary interpretation of classical sculpture in the ancient Greek and Roman traditions, the artist created a classical figure but her presence is modern, forceful and incredibly alive. Very powerful. If the artist wanted to add a strong yet beautiful presence to the courthouse entrance she succeeded beyond question. The statue, ten foot tall and weighing 2,000 lbs., is cast in bronze, patinated and gilded. But no matter the amount of bronze and gilding, every piece of public art commissioned and installed in Tampa and Hillsborough County generates controversy and opinion. Veritas et Justitia elicited comment both positive and negative when it was unveiled in 2007. In my opinion, the artist succeeded immeasurably well. Audrey Flack is a pioneer of Photorealism and a nationally recognized painter and sculptor. She holds a graduate degree and an honorary doctorate from Cooper Union in New York City and a BFA from Yale University. She has taught and lectured extensively. Her work is in major museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American. Notice as you click and enlarge the photo (and you must to appreciate this fine work) that the lady does not hold the scales of justice, as do most other statues of this kind, and is wearing a most interesting blindfold, not solid so her justice is truly blind, but has tiny slits for her eyes. The greenish cast to the bronze is intentional and is set off handsomely by the gold leaf and crown of stars. I hope you agree that Veritas et Justitia is a magnificent sculpture.