HUDSON — A local artist and a local artist-photographer hope to restore a historic statue to its former glory atop the fountain at the 7th Street Park.
“Venus Rising from the Sea,” created in 1890 by French sculptor Charles Cordier, is made of cast zinc and stood for decades in the green space.
The sculpture depicts the Roman goddess, who, according to myth, was born fully grown as she rose from the sea. She is the counterpart to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who represents love, beauty and fertility.
The statue was vandalized several times, including the late 1970s and early 1980s, and shattered into pieces when a drunken driver crashed into it as he drove through the 7th Street Park in October 1979.
Most recently, the statue, undisturbed, has been stored at the Department of Public Works garage since the 1990s.
Sometime after it was damaged in the 1979 crash, the statue was moved to the corner of 6th Street, near the Isaan Thai Star, 11 N. Seventh St., (formerly Park Falafel & Pizza), before it was stored away.
Lisa LaMonica’s book “Hudson (Images of America)” shows photos of Venus on the fountain at 7th Street Park dating back more than a century ago.
“For a long time, it was a myth that the statue exists, but it does indeed exist,” Mayor Rick Rector has said.
In 1974, artist Charles Rogers painted a statue called “Venus Rising from the Sea” in pastel blue. Rogers, who mainly creates still life portraits and scenery in acrylics that are made to look like oil paintings, asked then-Mayor Michael Yusko if he could restore the statue. Yusko approved the plan.
“My idea was to paint it in pastels and make it look more gorgeous, using blues and pinks,” Rogers, of Greenport, said in November.
To date, there are no specific plans by the city to restore and display the statue, Rector said.
“It has been safely stored in the same location by DPW for decades,” Rector said in November. “It is my hope, and that of many others, to see it once again properly displayed in a great Hudson location for the community’s enjoyment.”
In October 2014, the Hudson Development Corporation surveyed 414 residents and found that a renovation of the park fountain and the restoration of Venus was the No. 1 priority in a $350,000 park renovation grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, according to an Oct. 31, 2014 Register-Star story. But the statue continued to collect dust in the city’s storage facility.
Rogers, a Hudson native, and Garrett Roche want to see the statue restored to the top of the fountain in the 7th Street Park. Roche said he and Rogers were considering approaching City Hall with a petition or a meeting with the mayor. Roche and Rogers found they had a common interest when they struck up a conversation about the statue’s fate where Roche worked in Walgreens and Rogers was a customer.
“Mr. Rogers, as well as several other citizens, would love to see Venus renovated and returned to her original home in the 7th Street Park where the fountain now stands,” Roche said.
Since Venus was removed, a black metal fence was installed around the fountain, along with signs warning of “High Voltage.”
“As far as I know there were two separate times in the early 1980s when someone dumped detergent into the fountain, sending flowing soap suds all over the park,” Roche said, citing that as a possible explanation for an electrified fence.
The statue has been renovated several times, most recently by Robert Allen, of Philmont. It was filled with cement before it was stowed.
There are eight other similar statues in the U.S., Roche said. One of these statues, 215 miles to the east in Wolcott, New York, features Venus raising a lantern in one hand, Roche said.
“It would be such a wonderful revival of a piece of Hudson’s history as well as that of memories for Hudsonians such as Mr. Rogers and so many other citizens alike,” Roche said.
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