CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. May 18, 2009: A tribute statue to Christopher Columbus, the Italian-born navigator, explorer and `colonizer,` is being planned for the Bahamas island of San Salvador, CaribWorldNews has learnt exclusively.
The sculpture tribute is being planned for the island where Columbus first set foot in the New World on October 12, 1492, on the beach on San Salvador Island, as a gift from renowned Italian sculptor of the Raging Bull fame, Arturo Di Modica.
Di Modica, through collaboration with Italian American Museum officials and Arthur Piccolo of the Bowling Green Association of New York, presented the offer to the Bahamian government, who accepted it graciously.
As history tells it, on September 6, 1493, the Genoese skipper departed San Sebastian de la Gomera for what turned out to be a five-week voyage across the ocean. Land was sighted at 2 a.m. on October 12, 1492, by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana aboard the Pinta. Columbus called the island San Salvador.
Officials from the government were on hand on Saturday night at the eighth annual Museum gala to officially thank Dr. Joseph Scelsa, founder and President of the IAM and Di Modica, for the tribute offer, more than 500 years later.
Bahamas Minister of Culture, Charles Maynard, welcomed the `gift,` and told CWNN that his government was `very excited` at the offer. He said he looks forward to the unveiling of the statue during the Columbus Day weekend celebration of 2010.
`It`s very exciting. It gives us a chance to strengthen our cooperation with the Italian government and the Italian American community,` said Minister Maynard.
Asked for a response to critics who may question the enthusiasm to honor someone who essentially brought slavery to the region, Maynard said the reality is that the landing created a whole new paradigm in the relationship between the West and the East, and that the Western World would not be the same today if that event had not occurred.
`So you have to accept all the good that has come with it along with also the negative,` he added.
San Salvador is now populated by about 6,000 people and the minister said the statue will be placed near the current site that currently marks the first landing of Columbus. Di Modica, said the minister, will travel to the Bahamas in about two months to see the site first hand and to work out the details of size. He said so far the government has not been asked to fund it so could not determine if they will have to come up with any support.
Consul General of the Bahamas to New York, Carl Smith, said the offer is a celebration of the relationship the Bahamas and Italy started over 500 years ago. `We see this as an opportunity to further promote our country,` said Smith. `And so we`re very excited by the offer we have received from a world renown artist. From my estimation, it`s a very positive thing.`
Dr. David Hepburn, Chairman, Antiquities, Monuments & Museums Corp, said he is pleased with the project since the country is `looking at ways we can sell the Bahamas.`
He said while the country is widely known for `sun, sand and sea,` the upcoming project `will put San Salvador on the map` and hopefully boost cultural tourism.
Piccolo, who initiated the statue, called it a `pleasure` to `announce the cooperation between the government of the Bahamas and the Italian American Museum.`
Di Modica was born in Vittoria, Sicily and created the Charging Bull which he installed without permission in front of the New York Stock Exchange in December 1989. The work cost US$360,000 of the artist`s own money. The piece is now on loan to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation who have placed it in nearby Bowling Green park.
Meanwhile, the Italian Museum honored three special Italian Americans Saturday night, with awards for their contribution in the field at a special ceremony held at Cipriani`s on Wall Street. The 2009 honorees were Paul Pope, an entertainment executive who is the son of Generoso Pope, Jr., founder of the National Enquirer; Arthur Imperatore, Sr., founder and CEO of NY waterways and CEO, president and general manager of the New Jersey Devils, Louis Lamoriello.
The Italian American Museum was established in 2001 and is located at 155 Mulberry Street in Little Italy in New York City.