As dreams of going to Super Bowl fade and another year ends for the Carolina Panthers NFL team, I felt it was time to reflect on another significant bit of public art. And yes, I would call the six, twenty-two foot long heroic style monuments public art. After all, the Panthers stadium was built in large part through huge tax incentives and other municipal perks that allow the owners and the well heeled to enjoy skyboxes. Then there was the recent deal where the city gave the owners of the Panthers $87.5 million for “stadium improvements.” So while the average Joe or Jill that pays taxes in the city has to struggle to cough up the funds for a ticket in the nose bleed seats to see a Panthers game, you can enjoy the dynamic power and beauty of the these monolithic statutes that loom over you. The photo above makes me think the thing is laughing at me in a maniacal sort of way.
All the above factors should not detract from the skill of the artist Todd Andrews, who has been doing dynamic bronze sculptures for over thirty years. The process to make such massive bronze monuments requires not only skill as an artist and sculptor but requires an excellent knowledge of engineering and metallurgy. I imagine one also has to have good managerial skills, as the process to bring these sculptures to completion requires coordinating a team of artist apprentices, as well as working out the logistics to deliver the final piece to its location.
In many ways the six panthers remind me of similar monuments going far back into antiquity. After all, what was a sphinx before the Temple of Isis or gargoyles on the Cathedral Notre Dame? They were the avatars of power and influence meant to awe the onlooker. I am reminded of the French axiom, “plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose.” The more things change the more they stay the same.
I think I have made my point.