Best Public Statue - 2003
Earth's Fruitfulness and Man's Inventive Genius
What we're talking about here is a statue, a larger-than-life, three-dimensional artistic representation of the human animal, not some abstract slab of granite like the Banker's Heart that rests forlornly in front of the Bank of America Building. Several candidates come to mind: Bufano's Sun Yat-Sen in St. Mary's Square; The Thinker at the Legion of Honor; Willie Mays in front of Pac Bell Park; the grappling mechanics at Front and Market. But Ralph Stackpole's massive Depression-era tributes to the human spirit, flanking the entrance to the monolithic Stock Exchange, are especially powerful and stirring. Earth's Fruitfulness depicts three iconographic Dorothea Lange-ish women bearing bushels of wheat while placid babes recline at their feet. Man's Inventive Genius features a mechanic with a wrench, a scientist with a beaker -- and a laborer in jeans and tunic, muscles flexed, eyes narrowed, and face somber. The kicker is the vacant-eyed kid at his feet: He's giving the raised-fist communist salute to you and to me and especially to the squads of stockbrokers who pass him every day. This aesthetic hotfoot from Stackpole to his patrons adds a bit of sociopolitical whimsy to this proud, commanding artwork.