CLOSE
Original image

Chris Yunker via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A Seattle Neighborhood Has a Statue of Vladimir Lenin, and It's Up For Sale

Original image

Chris Yunker via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you'd like to experience the public art of the Soviet Union, there's no need to travel to Eastern Europe. In Seattle's artsy Fremont neighborhood, there’s a monument to Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. Despite efforts by its owners to sell it off, it’s been in Washington since the collapse of the Eastern Bloc (first in Issaquah, before moving to Seattle in 1995).

Considering Lenin’s legacy of oppression and mass executions, the 16-foot, seven-ton bronze statue doesn’t sit well with all residents. It was originally brought to Seattle by Lewis Carpenter, a Washington resident who saved it from the scrapyards of Poprad, Slovakia. Arguing that it was a work of art that deserved to be preserved, he purchased it and brought it back to the U.S.

Carpenter died in 1994, not long after shipping the statue to Issaquah, Washington, where he planned to install it in front of a restaurant he was set to open. A year later, it made its way to Seattle, where it was displayed as a piece of public art, just one block south of the Rocket, another Cold War relic-turned-artwork. Carpenter’s family still owns the statue of Lenin, but would love to get it off their hands. There’s an entire Facebook page devoted to tearing it down, and it’s regularly vandalized by people who paint the statue’s hands blood red.

In 1995, the statue was put up for sale for $150,000, with the proceeds scheduled to benefit a local arts organization, but no buyer came forward. By 2015, the price had been raised to $250,000—or best offer, as the The Seattle Times reported. Whether it will actually ever be sold is another question.

“Who can say for sure if the community would accept a check for the sale of Lenin if offered? The sculpture has found a home in Fremont,” the Fremont Arts Council’s Barbara Luecke told mental_floss in an email. However, if anyone did actually want to pay the $250,000 that an art appraiser decided the statue was worth, “any proceeds from its sale would help with the maintenance of the various art projects around the neighborhood,” she says.

Until then, the statue serves as a handy guidepost for local directions (“keep going until you see Lenin” cannot be misunderstood), and occasionally gets new additions, like a tutu for the annual gay pride parade or a tinfoil-wrapped burrito to hold as an advertisement for the nearby Mexican restaurant.

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
Ape Meets Girl
arrow
Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
Original image
Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

Original image
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
arrow
presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
Original image
Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios