As do many people, I often walk or drive past the “Oppie” and Groves statues standing together near Fuller Lodge. The statues are regularly featured in the ads of LANB (see LANB ad below the Los Alamos Daily Post masthead.)
The wonders of art stir varied thoughts in different people at different times. In some sense, this trait defines art. The statues are cast in different shades of bronze. Oppenheimer’s shade of metal is brighter in the sun; Groves’s metal is darker.
What could this difference mean?
Oppenheimer was a civilian who drew and led the best scientists from two continents to work toward a common goal against a common enemy. Groves was a military mind in a military uniform, who brought to bear a leader’s skills in logistics, managerial discipline and urgent purpose. Oppenheimer became history’s face of the wartime effort. Groves remains a different icon, whose contrasting strengths were equally vital in the partnership.
The history of that era hinged on the complementary differences between Oppenheimer and Groves. A strong leadership team grew from odd compatibilities in their dissimilar natures. The statues remind me so.
As art does so well, the shades of bronze suggest more than seeing a set of the two leaders, in matched bronze, standing where they stand.