Dominic Gospodor, Gospodor’s Monument
If you’ve been anywhere near Gospodor’s Monument in Toledo, WA, you know why it was accused of causing traffic jams along I-5 when it first debuted. It’s impossible not to stare at it in befuddlement.
Millionaire Seattleite Dominic Gospodor, who died last year, earned his fortune selling real estate in Alaska and spent the rest of his life using it to commission things like this:
That’s my dad walking among the steel spires, which commemorate the Native Americans (left), Mother Teresa (right), Jesus (100 ft up) and the victims of the Holocaust (represented by a giant diamond):
Monument to Holocaust victims
We stopped on our way to Seattle with the idea that maybe the typical passing glance doesn’t do the cluster of strange sculptures justice. If we could just get a good look at them, maybe they’d make sense.
Or maybe it’s that they make too much sense. Besides the giant diamond, every pillar’s message seems clumsy and heavy-handed. Yes, Gospodor, we understand why you attached Mother Teresa to the bottom of Jesus’ pedestal. We get it that Alaska was important to you. No need to raise an Alaskan flag 100 feet in the air under an enormous weather vane.
More perplexing is why Gospodor chose these particular people and issues to spotlight. It’s as though he asked a group of 15-year-olds “Who’s you’re hero?” and randomly chose five answers. He wasn’t done building, either. Barring a revolt from the people of Toledo, Gospodor was planning monuments to drunken driving victims, Jonas Salk, Susan B. Anthony, African-American history, William Seward and the kitchen sink. I made one of those up.
Monument to Jesus
This fantastic Flickr post on the monuments describes them as “gaudy,” which seemed like the perfect word until I got a good look at them. They’re a little too stark and industrial for that flashy description, like weird cousins of those spindly, rusting ruins of the Soviet Union. The rough, chunky features of the human figures even reminded me a bit of the Lenin statue I saw last time I was here.
So maybe Gospodor’s monstrosities stir up more laughter than important discussion on difficult topics. Maybe they’re nothing but a giant-sized character study on a filthy rich man-boy. The statues’ self conscious size, awkward design and forced prominence might deserve a bit of ridicule, but perhaps it stems from envy. What if we could all thrust our strangest dreams into monumental reality? Would you hold back?
BONUS PICS: Here are a couple more shots of the weirdness.
BONUS TRIVIA: Gospodor almost built his monument in Sutherlin, Oregon. Dodged that bullet!