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Venus of Bayport Statue Demolished By Vandals

Sculptor speaks out about her "famous" statue being vandalized on April 10.

Police are still investigating the apparent vandalism of the "Venus of Bayport" statue that formerly sat on the corner of McConnell Avenue and Academy Street, and was discovered missing on April 10.

The statue was found in pieces scattered in a trail going east on Academy Street, north on Oakwood Avenue to Railroad Street, then made a U-turn by the baseball field at the high school and finally ended by the train tracks just west of McConnell Avenue.

Tied with a nylon rope and rigged to a vehicle, the statue was uprooted, broken and strewn throughout the streets of Bayport in the early morning of April 10. Sculptor of the statue, Irene Lap Bansé, discovered the base and the nylon rope thrown in the swamp near Lotus Lake.

The statue has been a local landmark since 1975, when Bansé brought it home. It was her senior college project from Hartford Art School, where she studied ancient art history. The statue remained nestled in the corner of her mother’s house since then.

Bansé said the statue was an enlarged replica of a Neolithic 4.3-inch figurine discovered in Germany in 1908 called “Venus of Willendorf.” Archeologists believed the portly woman was created to exemplify a fertility goddess between 30,000-25,000 B.C.

“I was just struck by this figure,” Bansé said. “I thought she was beautiful and I just felt an affinity for her.”

With the help of her professor, Bansé said she carved the body of the statue—from the ankles up—out of Styrofoam blocks used to make floating docks because it was light weight and held its shape. She pasted the blocks together with plaster and used fiberglass resin on the outside to give the piece a cast iron-like appearance. Bansé used metal rods in the legs to give the statue a solid support and finished the base with a layer of concrete.

“The biggest weight of the statue was actually below ground in a concrete base,” Bansé said. “From the street, she looks really heavy.”

Bansé said that’s why she was surprised that neither her mother nor brother still living in the house heard anything the night of its destruction. She said the concrete must have made some kind of noise, especially after being dragged behind a vehicle.

“That’s the crazy thing about it,” Bansé said. “Both of their bedrooms are right in front of the house and no one heard anything. It must have been in the dead of night.”

Bansé said she is shocked and saddened that her statue was abducted and destroyed. She also said she has spent a lot of time on Facebook receiving messages from residents expressing how much the statue meant to them.

“I’m just overwhelmed,” she said. “You expect to hear it from friends, but when it’s from people you never met, it’s surprising.”

Bansé said she intends to prosecute if the culprits are found and hopes the police will find them.

As of right now, Bansé said she has no plans to rebuild the statue, but has not completely ruled out the possibility.

Lori May 01, 2011 at 01:12 AM
It truly makes me sad to have heard about this most senseless act. Irene's statue was an icon. I hope that the police are investigating this vandalism to the utmost. I truly am so sorry for your loss Irene, but your talent and your compassion for the arts can never be shattered.
Bayport Newbie May 03, 2011 at 11:36 PM
The problem that we run into. Is that yes the kids will squeal. The police will find out who the the little vandals were. They will get arrested and that is as far as it will go. There will be no consequences. Mommy and daddy will bail them out, Pay the attorney fees and the judge will let them out to terrorize the streets for a 50 dollar fine. The monsters will be out running around the neighborhood with their six pack and crooked hats the following weekend. We can not risk jeopardizing poor innocent Johnny ( and his pack of statue killing buddies) chances from getting into the college of his choice. We can not put that black mark on his record. That is our biggest problem today, no one is responsible for their actions. That is what we are teaching our youth. One day that is going to come around and bite us in the you know what.
Lori May 03, 2011 at 11:53 PM
Dear "Newbie"... although I agree with you, I must say that if the police actually put this at top of their list of crimes to investigate I would be relieved. It always seems as if such crimes as these don't get the attention that they deserve. Then what happens???? Thugs such as these kids feel empowered by getting away with such a senseless and cruel act. I hope I'm wrong.
Deborah Smalling May 04, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Dear "Newbie" . . . I grew up in Bayport and remember well many a Christmas season, vandals would cut my father's Christmas lights, one year they slashed the blow up Grinch's face . . . they really hurt my Dad, his neighbors decorations for the most part were left untouched, but living on the corner - I guess it gave them the "power" to hit and run. To my knowledge we never found out who the "cute" kids were. I do hope you are wrong and these thugs will receive some type of punishment, public community service would be nice. Pick up the garbage on the sides of the streets AND a public apology to Irene. I'll be watching the Patch for more updates.
Baygirl65 May 04, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Where you PLAY you PAY!

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