Thousands of Portlanders lined the street and a band played Johann Strauss' "Artist's Life Waltz" as a cherry picker hoisted Washington artist Ray Kaskey, his wife, Sherry, and a host of local dignitaries 45 feet in the air to officially dedicate his 6 1/4-ton copper statue, "Portlandia," today.
"I am just overwhelmed. It adds to the mythology of Portland," said Mayor J.E. (Bud) Clark. "She Portlandia rose from the sea and became a symbol of Portland. She has been on the city seal for years but now she is getting a better recognition. It's just delightful."
The burnished brown statue, a woman holding a trident in her outstretched hand, also held a yellow and red bouquet of roses and chrysanthemums for the festivities.
"Portlandia" kneels on a portico over the city's 15-story Portland Building, a five-year-old concrete and glass municipal office building designed by architect Michael Graves. It is the second largest hammered copper sculpture in the United States -- the largest being the Statue of Liberty.
Kaskey, 42, said he was sorry that many of his Washington friends missed the ceremony, as well as Portland's free artistic climate. "I have never seen anything like this. It's like a religious experience."
Earlier during his speech before the dedication Kaskey said, "Sculpture must be more like cognac, distilled and potent, and if 'Portlandia' is successful it is because it's approaching that cognac state. And if you don't like this alcoholic analogy, you have to substitute the stimulus of your choice."
Kaskey built "Portlandia" in a warehouse in Cottage City, Md., and shipped it to Portland via railroad. The statue, whose face looks like his wife Sherry's, arrived in Portland on Aug. 9, and was reassembled and then hoisted onto the Portland Building Sunday.
The $198,000 sculpture, which took three years to complete, was financed under a city ordinance that sets aside 1 percent of construction money on public buildings for art. Kaskey says he paid himself $24,000 from the commission over the three years, so Sherry Kaskey supported the family.
"I feel very honored to have my look-alike up there," she said today, pointing upward. "But I'll be getting old and my face will wrinkle but she will stay the same." The Kaskeys have no children, but "We have one large copper girl," she said. "Isn't that enough?"