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Athens Square

NYC Parks Dedicates Statue Of Sophocles In Astoria's Athens Square In Honor Of Greek Independence Day


Monday, March 30, 2015
No. 18
http://www.nyc.gov/parks

Final statue is completed and permanently on display at Athens Square in Astoria, Queens

NYC Parks Queens Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski joined Senator Michael Gianaris, City Council Member Costa Constantinides, State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, artist Chris Vilardi, the Athens Square Committee, the Hellenic Federation of Greek Societies, and elected officials from Greece on Saturday to officially unveil the sculpture Sophocles at Athens Square in Astoria, Queens.

This sculpture of the Greek dramatist Sophocles is the fourth and final sculpture to be installed at the park, completing a long-range plan for Athens Square established in the late 1980s. The park is named for the capital of modern Greece and the center of ancient Greek civilization. Sophocles joins the existing sculptures Socrates (installed in 1993,) Athena (installed in 1996,) and Aristotle (installed in 2008). The sculpture was fully funded as a gift to the City by the Athens Square Committee in Astoria where there is a large, passionate Greek community.

“This beautiful park feels complete with the installation of its fourth and final sculpture, Sophocles,” said NYC Parks Queens Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. “The sculpture represents years of dedication and hard work and we give our sincere thanks to the Athens Square Committee for their partnership and support. This project would not have been possible without them and its installation is such a wonderful way to honor Greek Independence Day this year.”

"It is an incredible honor for me to have been able to create Sophocles for this community and city that is so dear to me," said sculptor Chris Vilardi.

“Athens Square is a gift to the city of New York from the Greek Americans and their friends in appreciation of the opportunities that our forefathers were given in this great country,” said the Athens Square Committee. “It will serve as a Hellenic-American monument at this cultural, educational performing arts center for all the people of New York City.”

The locally sourced sculpture, which consists of a seven-and-a-half-foot-tall bronze full-standing figure, was crafted by Astoria-based sculptor Chris Vilardi and cast at the venerable Queens fabricator, Modern Art Foundry. It stands on a pedestal of Mountain Green granite quarried in Jay, New York. The artist has taken a "modern stylistic approach" that pays homage to the past, and represents Sophocles in ancient attire typical for a man of his stature. In his left hand he holds the mask of tragedy, a prop of Greek theater. Inscribed in classic Greek font on the base are details of his life, as well as signature quotations from his plays.

Sophocles is considered by most modern scholars to be the greatest of the Greek tragedians. A man of wealth, charm, and genius, Sophocles was given posts of responsibility in peace and in war by the Athenians. He was a general and a priest; after his death he was worshipped as a hero. At the age of 16 he led the chorus in a paean on the victory of Salamis.

About Athens Square Park
The concept for Athens Square, designed by Stamatios P. Lykos, was established in the late 1980s and sponsored by leaders in this predominantly Greek community of Astoria, under the auspices of Athens Square, Inc. The City first built the park in 1990s, and financed a major renovation completed in 2014. Besides the statue of Sophocles, the park plan, inspired by ancient Greek precedents, also features a central performance space, a Greek peristyle (three fluted Doric columns supporting a curved entablature), and sculptures of the philosophers Socrates and Aristotle, and Athena, goddess of wisdom and courage. The sculptures were commissioned by the Athens Square Committee, which has also established a maintenance endowment for their care.

Directions to Athens Square

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