Giant Presidential Head Update

The Bonassus notes that the newly-opened Presidents Park, which features the Giant Presidential Heads of artist David Adickes, is doing just fine, thank you very much.

The park has drawn more than 20,000 visitors since March 1, [Everette H. Newman III, Adickes’ co-owner of the park] said. That’s less than a tenth of what Colonial Williamsburg attracts but just fine for a new business, Newman said.

There is little disagreement that the busts are impressive. Adickes spent five years making them, with some presidents presenting more of a challenge than others. Gerald R. Ford’s features were hard to pin down, as was Bill Clinton’s hairstyle, he said. George H.W. Bush, who once posed for Adickes, was his favorite. The busts each took about six weeks to complete.

There’s space for eight more busts, and Adickes said he will be ready this fall if Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) wins the presidency. Kerry’s face would be easy to render because it is long and craggy, he said.

To Newman’s delight, most visitors don’t find the enormous heads the least bit tacky. Comments on exit surveys have been more than 90 percent glowing, he said. And the park has won over some of its original doubters — sort of.

“We are a nation that is sorely in need of more aggressive enlightenment on our own nation’s history, and to the extent Presidents Park helps do that, we certainly commend them for it,” said Tim Andrews, spokesman for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Or as Walter C. Zaremba, a member of the York County Board of Supervisors, said: “There is resigned acceptance of it.”

Visiting on a recent day, Naleen Cordle of Blackstone, Va., called the park “moving” and chalked up opposition to the “snooty-patootie” attitude of Williamsburg residents.

“They’re men that . . . led our country into the future,” she said of the presidents. “They were larger than life.”

Three cheers for David Adickes and Everette Newman, I say. The world is a better place with Giant Presidential Heads in it.

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3 Responses to Giant Presidential Head Update

  1. Charles, a grateful nation thanks you for your tireless coverage of this issue (and especially those jaw-dropping pictures of the heads you posted earlier this year).

    The more I think about it, though, the more strongly I believe that there should be two Grover Cleveland heads. I guess I’m more of a traditionalist than I thought…

  2. Patrick says:

    I lived in Virginia about 25 minutes from Williamsburg and although the Colonial Williamsburg area is certainly “high-end” there are more than a few of the standard cheap tourist trap type ventures in the area…cheesy and old putt-putt golf places, large “country” stores with plenty of dumb T-shirts, frig magnets, and rock candy on a stick, and about 8 pancake/waffle shops a couple of which looked like they have been ripped from the pages of a Patricia Cornwell novel crime scene.

    Having seen the head at the studio up close, they may not have the gravitas of the Colonial area, they certainly are not at the low end of the area’s attractions.

    BTW – The Busch Garden amusement park there is really nice. Not a lot of roller coasters (4 or 5), but it’s clean and pretty. It makes a nice contrast to the Colonial area for parents.

  3. Michael says:

    We were there on our honeymoon(Williamsburg/Jamestown/etc., not the Big Giant Prezhead Park), and were amazed at the density of Waffle Houses. There were all levels of gravitas and cheese at the attractions. We spent a lot of time at historical houses.

    But I agree, even if it’s not Carter’s Grove, BGPP is no roadside snake farm.

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