Deep inside a cavernous wine warehouse in Bladensburg, a mammoth copper figure is taking shape. Called "Portlandia," it pays homage to the citizens of Portland, Ore.
The three-story-high figure will hold a trident in one hand and a wreath of wheat will rest at her feet, tributes to the ocean-bound vessels and wheat-producing farms of the Tualatin valley that made Portland.
The work of Raymond J. Kaskey, it was commissioned by Portland's Metropolitan Arts Commission for the community's new city hall.
The building opened in 1983, but the statue -- largest of its kind under construction in this country -- is a year behind schedule.
"It took six months just to find a big enough place" to make it, said Kaskey, 41, a former architecture professor at the University of Maryland, who won the job over 200 other sculptors two years ago.
He said he has had trouble figuring costs because statues this large are rare now.
" . . . I can't go to someone who's doing work on this scale and ask, 'Hey, how long does this take?' " he noted.
Because of cost overruns and miscalculations, only $20,000 remains of the original $198,000 granted by the arts commission, he said. He said he needs an additional $25,000 to finish the project and is seeking funding from corporations.
The sculptor said that he mistakenly bought a ton of copper bars for the 32-foot statue's structural support, but they proved to be too heavy. He will have to replace them with copper plate, he said.
"Everything took twice as long or twice as much as it was supposed to," said Kaskey.
He said he has no way of getting the statue across country, even though the grant was supposed to cover transportation as well.
The only comparable project now is the refurbishing of the Statue of Liberty. " . . . And they've got a $30 million budget," he said.