Statue of Al Waxman
When Al Waxman died approximately 15 years ago, Canada lost one of the most talented and remarkable players and actors whose direct contribution to Canadian broadcasting is enormous. This man fell in love with acting and received numerous winning awards and nominations for his persistent and successful work on television, radio, and, finally, stage. The current paper aims to describe and assess the history of Al Waxman statue. In addition, much emphasis is placed on several important issues associated with donation, construction, installation, and vandalism of Al Waxman statue.
Taking into consideration relevant biographical data, it is important to emphasize that Albert Samuel Waxman is included in the list of the greatest and most brilliant Canadian actors and directors (Adler, 2015). He managed to receive several important awards for his performance, especially the Gemini, ACTRA, as well as Clio and Emmy awards. Moreover, Al Waxman actively participated in numerous cultural and charitable groups, organizations, and institutions, including Big Brothers, Canadian Film Centre, and many others (Adler, 2015). Following the death of this prominent personality, Ruth Abernethy, a famous artful and inventive Canadian sculptor, erected Al Waxman statue in Kensington Market located on the territory of Toronto, Canada (Adler, 2015). The location of the giant bronze statue is symbolic because Al Waxman was raised on the territory of Kensington Market as his parents had a small restaurant there (Adler, 2015). In 2002, the authority of the City of Toronto made a decision to honor Waxman’s work and allocated a sufficient amount of money to place a bronze statue in the heart of Kensington Market (Adler, 2015).
According to the information provided in the Report No. 7 issued by the Toronto East York Community Council, installation of Al Waxman bronze statue will ensure an opportunity to honor the contribution of this personality and positively influence the economic growth, tourism, and cultural development of the city (Donation and installation, 2002). Installation of this statue in Bellevue Square Park was the gift from the Al Waxman Kensington Memorial Committee. This committee provided appropriate funding for the design, development, and fabrication of this memorial. The Al Waxman Committee’s donation, which was equal to $7,800, covered the cost of the installation and maintenance of the artwork (Donation and installation, 2002).
The local authority of the city claims that the installation of “Al Waxman Memorial” should be viewed as a convincing evidence that citizens of Canada and residents of Toronto honor genuine commitment and devotion of Mr. Al Waxman to the field of Canadian art.
Moreover, according to the information provided in the report, the Art Committee for Public Places joined and actively participated in the processes of design, development, and maintenance of the statue (Donation and installation, 2002). In addition, the staff of the newly developed and implemented committee established a wide range of donation criteria. They include suitability of the statue for the public art collection of the City of Toronto, the quality of the artwork, sustainability and applicability of the theme of the memorial to the overall public venue, appropriateness of the monument to the proposed site, authenticity of the artwork, provenance, and many other crucially important criteria (Donation and installation, 2002). Moreover, members of the Art Committee claim that it is critically important to consider many other criteria. Among them, one can mention qualifications of the artist, effective physical conditions of the artwork, sustainability of the statue to a variety of important technical requirements associated with its installation in the public place, absence of a variety of restrictive conditions, effective and ongoing maintenance of the statue, and ease of maintenance and caring processes (Donation and installation, 2002).
Public authorities of the City of Toronto stress that this statue will ensure an excellent opportunity for Al Waxman to remain the King of Kensington forever. The volunteers M. Colle, T. Mihalik, M. M. Lastman, and O. Show also actively participated in commissioning and developing the work after the death of Mr. Waxman on January 18, 2001 (Warkentin, 2010). Ruth Abernethy, a designer of this fascinating and priceless artwork who created many other bronze sculptures and portraits, especially the beautiful portrait of Glenn Gould in front of the CBC building on the territory of Toronto, recommended to use the portrait of Al Waxman in his later years to “freeze-frame” this person as the King of Kensington (Warkentin, 2010). Therefore, the recognized Canadian sculptor confesses that she decided to portray this famous person in his later years in order to present and praise the entire body of his work as Al Waxman had a successful career path and growth (Warkentin, 2010). In addition, the Al Waxman Kensington Memorial Committee expresses deep appreciation and sincere thanks to many other people who actively participated and contributed to the successful completion of the project, especially D. Pinkus, K. Shul, S. Porter, and, finally, the entire Perger Family as this group of people generously donated to this creative and ambitious project (Warkentin, 2010).
Abernethy’s sculpture of Waxman depicts this recognized and prominent person standing at the junction of two beautiful park benches. In addition, this statue attracts the attention of tourists with friendly and open smile greetings. Critics of this statue claim that this piece of artwork is an apt representation of Al Waxman in real life according to the views and ideas of those people who knew him (Knoespel, 2002). However, according to the estimations of local designers and architects, the inclusion of two park benches is definitely one of the best options as it serves as a national invitation for all passersby and visitors in order to ensure an opportunity for each person to sit and appreciate persistent work and effective performance of Al Waxman (Knoespel, 2002).
In May 2014, this famous artwork was vandalized or, in other words, “jokerized” (Edmiston, 2014). The statue of the King of Kensington was colorfully painted in order to resemble the Joker (Edmiston, 2014). Proponents and fans of this life-size bronze artwork criticized and dispraised this awful and illegal act of vandalism and emphasized that “jokerized” statue vandalized with graffiti symbolized disrespect. However, Abernethy confessed that although this sculpture was the only one of her artworks that was vandalized by the public, she did not perceive this act of vandalism personally and she was not upset about this unpleasant incident (Edmiston, 2014). Although residents of the City of Toronto expressed ambiguous attitudes and mixed reactions to the new look of the sculpture of Al Waxman, the statue was “defaced,” cleaned, and polished (Edmiston, 2014).
In conclusion, the statue of Al Waxman is one of the most fascinating and interesting cultural insights in Kensington Market. Each visitor of this sophisticated and unusual statue will be overwhelmed and deeply impressed by the intricate decoration and details of the bronze. Since this is an excellent portrait of an eminent and talented Canadian and a bright example of this famous artist’s work, Al Waxman statue will serve as a valuable and attractive addition to the Public Art Collection in Toronto.