8 Wonders of Kansas art

An 8 Wonder of Kansas Art

Poco Frazier's Justice, Kansas Judicial Center, Topeka

Address: 301 SW 10th Ave. Topeka, KS
Phone: 785.296.2022
Website: www.kscourts.org/court-administration/

The statue Justice is an 8 Wonders of Kansas Art finalist because of the beauty of the 22-foot white marble statue designed by Bernard "Poco" Frazier and because of the importance of its symbolic portrayal of justice as possessing clear vision and swift and accurate action.

A new symbol of "Justice", conceived and designed by Bernard "Poco" Frazier (Athol, KS native), kneels on an eight-foot high granite pedestal at the center of the Kansas Judicial Center. Departing from the traditional upright figure of a woman, blindfolded with sword and scales, the new symbol emerges in a more gentle kneeling posture of a woman, eyes open, looking at her upraised arm, upon which is perched the symbolic figure of the Prairie Falcon, native to Kansas. A perceptive "Justice" departs from the "Justice is Blind" traditional symbol, expressed through the "Prairie Falcon" whose vision is thought by scientists to be eight times as powerful as that of man. Being one of the swiftest birds known, the Falcon equally symbolizes "speedy justice".

The concept was developed by Mr. Frazier during the winter and spring of 1974. Later in the year, Mr. Frazier visited quarries in Greece and Italy to select the source of the marble which he found in ancient quarries north of Carrara, Italy; quarries which supplied marble for use by Michelangelo and his contemporaries. In 1975, the Legislature appropriated $25,000 to be used for the construction of the granite pedestal for the sculpture and created a means by which contributions could be made to a state administered fund of $75,000 to enable completion of the sculpture. Mr. A.B. Hudson, a Topeka businessman, donated the entire $75,000.

Completion of a one-quarter scale model in the summer of 1975 enabled Mr. Frazier to order the quarrying of the blocks of marble. In early 1976, Mr. Frazier sent his son Malcolm to Italy to oversee rough carving of the blocks while he recovered from an early heart attack. Rough carving was completed in the spring of 1976, but work was interrupted by the death of Mr. Frazier in May of that year. Malcolm returned to Topeka to seek the commission to complete the sculpture. This was approved with some conditions that he obtain the services of a master stone carver which he did. Funds were then released to enable shipment of the rough carved blocks to the United States allowing their arrival in December of 1976.

Malcolm Frazier, working with an assistant Charles Gray of Lawrence, Kansas, and Dante Rossi of Barre, Vermont, completed the rough carving of the blocks on a site adjacent to the new building, and supervised the transfer of the blocks into the building, hoisting of the blocks and joining of them. The pure white sculpture consists of seven pieces of marble and stands twenty-two feet tall above the eight foot base.

The Kansas Judicial Center was completed in 1978. The building is designed to complement the State Capitol and is located on direct axis with the Capitol.

Source: Information from the Judicial Center tours.

E-mail: leej@kscourts.org

Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.