Lenin Dusted Off And On Feet Again -- Back Home In Fremont

He's back - and he's still for sale.

Looking a bit green about the face and crotch following a rumored run-in with some shaving cream, Vladimir Lenin today gazes out over the Republic of Fremont from his prominent new post by the Taco del Mar at Fremont Place North and North 36th Street.

A mere $150,000 will buy you the 16-foot-tall, 8 1/2-ton bronze statue that has stirred passions here in this in-your-face enclave since it was first moved into the neighborhood last year, in a parking lot two blocks south of its new home. The statue was removed because last winter's storms washed away the dirt mound it rested on; it needed a more stable home. Later, in storage back in Fremont, the statue apparently was vandalized (hence the green patina).

Among an estimated 30 people who gathered yesterday to watch the crane unload the former Communist leader was Bellevue resident Maxine Snell, who inherited the statue from her son Lewis Carpenter. Carpenter had rescued it from the town dump in Poprad, Slovakia, and hauled it to his home in Issaquah before he was killed in a car accident last year.

"What are we going to do with (8 1/2) tons of bird bath in the pasture?" Snell said yesterday. She said it was far more fitting for Lenin to be in Fremont than in her late son's pasture with two horses.

Fremont sculptor Peter Bevis, who led the campaign for Lenin's re-installation, said that Fremont, as an outdoor art gallery, was the perfect place for it.

"To me, public sculpture is one of the things that binds a community together," Bevis said. "We've had so many good serious discussions underneath it (Lenin). When you talk to your neighbor like that, the world's not such a scary place."

Not everyone has warm feelings about the installation.

Upon learning of the sculpture's reappearance, Bellevue resident Marian Strutynski, head of Seattle's Polish Home Association, said he was appalled. Strutynski equated Lenin with Stalin and Hitler, saying Lenin represented the deaths of millions of people during the Russian revolution and post-revolution purges.

He also noted the irony of the statue being put back up the very day that Lech Walesa, former president of the Republic of Poland, paid a visit.

If the statue is sold, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce will get 35 percent of the cash, said Suzie Burke, chamber treasurer. The money will go to support more public art and acquisitions, such as Fremont's Rocket and the giant Troll under the Aurora Avenue Bridge.

Said Burke: "Lenin's looking straight at the Rocket. Now we have all our Cold War symbols in one place."