Neptune Statue

June 30, 2012 – I haven’t been this excited about seeing a statue since the time I saw The Awakening. Or the other time I saw The Awakening. I mean, after visiting hundreds of abstract art sculptures and human-sized statues of people looking civic and distinguished, I’ve decided that gigantic ancient gods is exactly what sculpture is for. And I’m not talking Christ the Redeemer or the Leshan Buddha. I’m talking terrifying gods of antiquity that shrink us down to the appropriate scale: bite-sized in an absentmindedly chewing universe. The Colossus of Rhodes, Zeus at Olympia…Virginia Beach’s Neptune.

Neptune, of course, is the Roman God of the sea. Virginia Beach is the place vacationers go when the Outer Banks is just a little too far away for them to get to. Together, they make a pretty awesome public art project.

Located right on the boardwalk close to where Laskin Road intersects with Atlantic Avenue, the 34-foot-tall bronze statue looks appropriately indifferent of mere humanity, especially the barely clad and sandy examples of the species clamoring about his base.

Bearded and crowned, he brandishes a tall trident in one hand and palms a massive sea turtle in the other. His body cants forward as if he’s in the process of dribbling said sea turtle, while below his torso, right where his holy nethers and lower limbs would be, is a rock cocoon covered in bronze sea creatures.

He faces the tiny Neptune Park, while behind him is the Atlantic Ocean from which, if you can find the right angle and degree of eye squint, he appears to rise. Above him, fighter jets regularly and noisily scramble from the nearby Naval Air Station Oceana.

The Roman counterpart of the Greek Poseidon was carved by an artist named P. DiPasquale and installed in 2005. According to a plaque affixed to him, Neptune was erected as a memorial to the founders of Virginia Beach’s annual Neptune Festival, a 40-year-old multi-million-dollar party that occurs every September.

In person, the statue doesn’t disappoint. Sure, I wish it were in a less crowded place, and the intersection of city and beach is one of my least favorite geographical juxtaposition on the planet, but it’s worth putting up with to be dwarfed by a blasphemed Roman deity.

And here is where I would’ve linked to the seaQuest DSV episode where they encounter Neptune himself, but YouTube isn’t the comprehensive site it once was.