The Carpetbagger by Larry Anderson
Below is a reprint of a comment that was originally printed in the Tacoma News Tribune. I’m reprinting it because I saw the Carpetbagger again yesterday, and every time I see it, I feel the same excitement that I felt the first time I saw it standing so proudly in front of the restored train station. I hope you like it too.
The Soul of Tacoma is in the Carpetbagger
by Janelle Meraz Hooper
For me, the soul of Tacoma is in the Carpetbagger. A sculpture donated to Tacoma by sculptor Larry Anderson, the Carpetbagger stands in front of the Union Station.
When it was first installed, Pacific Avenue was a rough area. I heard people commenting about how long can it last there? At the time, I was a member of the Pierce County Arts Commission and for days after it was installed, I drove by at odd hours just to make sure it was still there and unharmed.
While I’ve been on my affectionate “drive-bys”, I’ve seen it dusted with snow, and dampened by drizzle. I’ve seen people stop in their travels down the pavement to walk slowly all the way around the artwork to enjoy every curve and pattern of the bronze work. Many times, I’ve seen people of all sizes and shapes posing with it for a camera.
As far as I know, it has never suffered any damage by vandals, a testament to how beloved it is by people in all walks of life. That’s not to say it hasn’t been “modified”. From time to time, I’ve noticed his lapel adorned by daffodils or tulips. One time, I even saw a Burger King bag tucked underneath his arm. Once, in a pouring rain, I saw him draped in a plastic disposable raincoat.
It just proves to me that the people of Tacoma have taken the Carpetbagger into their hearts—and that Mr. Anderson may have sculpted the dapper man with the carpet bag under his arm, but the people of Tacoma have breathed life into it.