Christopher Columbus, Discoverer of America

Return To List


Artist: William F. Joseph

Date: 1970

Location: Civic Center Park, promenade

Collection: Public Art

Artwork Type: Sculpture

Material: Bronze

Description: The sculpture was presented to the city by Alfred and Anna Adamo in 1970. Their donation was in honor of Colorado as the first state to recognize Columbus Day as a holiday. The sculpture uses a similar metaphor to Da Vinci's Universal Man; this non-descript figure is pointing the four cardinal directions of the compass. Over the years, the Columbus Day celebration has sparked protests by leaders of the American Indian Movement and counter-protests by Italian-American associations throughout the country. Denver has evolved into having one parade for the Columbus Day Celebration; one group celebrates Columbus' discovery and the other group protests the havoc imparted on the Native Americans by the European immigrants. The sculpture was symbolically defaced with fake blood during more violent protests in 1989. In essence, the sculpture honoring Christopher Columbus was temporarily modified in what would now be called a 'conceptual performance piece'. Activist Russell Means was found not guilty of defacement of the sculpture as his act was considered by the court a protest and protected under practicing free speech. The city did not appeal the decision and the sculpture was cleaned with no permanent damage.