When I first visited Fremont shortly after arriving in Seattle, I was dumbstruck by the sight of a gigantic statue of Lenin in the heart of Fremont. Having since experienced other sides of “Center-of-the-Universe”-Fremont eccentricity, I am no longer surprised, but still marvel at the sight of the colossal thing every time I catch a glimpse of it.
The statue is an original USSR-relic brought to Fremont in 1996 by American veteran Lewis Carpenter, who found the sculpture in Poprad, Slovakia, lying face down after it was toppled in the 1989 Revolution. It is 16 feet tall and weighs over 7 tons, and was created over the course of ten years by Emil Venkov.
Apart from it being remarkable to find a statue of the father of the old archenemy USSR in the capitalist United States, the statue itself is truly unique. It is believed to be the only representation portraying Lenin surrounded by guns and flames instead of holding a book or waving his hat, expressing the sculptor’s bold vision of Lenin as a violent revolutionary.
Like the Fremont Troll and the Waiting for the Interurban sculpture (see my article on this sculpture), the Lenin statue is often decorated, appropriated, or vandalized with various intentions, both whimsical and serious. For example, Lenin’s left hand is covered in blood-red paint.
Not everyone can see the joke, though, and numerous efforts continue to try to have the statue removed from its current location for being a symbol of violence and a defunct authoritarian regime.