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Returned "Goddess" Gets New Patina

Deb Zeller

A bronze statue stolen from downtown Sioux City will return by next summer, with some repairs and a new pedestal, which is designed to be more secure. So secure that Sioux City Art Center won't give too many details on the new mount for "Goddess of the Grapes." 

"Well if I told you, it wouldn't be a secured design," laughs Al Harris-Fernandez, director of the art center. "It's just something that will give us more to attach the sculpture onto so that it can't be easily removed." 

After someone took the sculpture this past September, many assumed the 20-inch depiction of a young woman holding grapes and gazing towards the sky had been melted down for the value of its metal. But the statue reappeared in front of the Sioux City Art Center less than a week later. 

"Some people found it out in front of the art center and let us know," says Harris-Fernandez. "Another lady later on came in and said that she found it at a different location, and put it in front of the art center." 

Artist Deb Zeller says the artwork's reappearing is "like a dream come true." Since "Goddess of the Grapes" was damaged near the feet, the artist anticipates the statue will need some welding repairs and a new patina.

"The heat of the welding will discolor the patina," says Zeller. "She'll end up a real, kind of purplely-black color, probably all the way up her legs, probably almost to her skirt line. And that is really, really ugly." 

Zeller says she'll first sandblast the statue to take off the current pigment, and then redo the sculpture's finish using potash and ferric nitrate, the latter creating  a brown glow. She'll also add cupric nitrate, which produces a green patina, to the grapes' leaves. And for the grapes, Zeller plans to add a bronze-purple dye.