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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.

confectioner April 22, 2011 at 10:34 PM
What an awful thing to do, I have heard some people comment that they didn't like the statue but to destroy property is unforgiveable. Personally, I like the statue and felt it gave an artisitc turn to home. Finding out the backstory of the staue make it even more deplorable. Hopefully the work of "irresponsible" kids but it may not be- I can't believe one of my neighbors would do this to another neighbor.
Danielle Golden Giglio April 22, 2011 at 11:57 PM
How sad.
Bob Draffin April 23, 2011 at 01:55 AM
What a sad day for the peace loving Citizens of Bayport. This Artwork has stood as a testament to peace and understanding dating back to a time when not everyone in our Community was ready to embrace equality amongst the Races. What a shame that after all these years, we're still not there yet...
kristine April 23, 2011 at 02:28 AM
I am so sad to hear of this story. Nothing is safe and nothing is sacred anymore. I happen to love the statue and would always take notice of it when I passed the home. I will be sad to see it is no longer here.
Baygirl65 April 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM
I have lived on Mcconnell Ave for 10 yrs and people from the area always refer to that statue when I mention where I reside. So sad and disrespectful of the vandals. I did stop at the residence this week and ask if any update on locating the culprits, and nothing yet. Im sure the ones who did it - dont own a home (too young) and dont realize how violated you feel when it happens - so I hope the consequences of their actions are fierce and not just a slap on the hand.
Baygirl65 April 23, 2011 at 10:24 AM
Thanks for the patch posted the article - the stories Ive heard over the years of where it came from were so varied. Its nice to finally get the history.
Dawn Parker -Jacobs April 23, 2011 at 02:44 PM
How sad I remember as a young girl on my school bus ride, disgraceful!!!
Deborah Shaw April 23, 2011 at 03:05 PM
This is so sad! I remember that statue fondly...I graduated from Bayort High School in the mid-eighties and that statue was an admired landmark. I hope Suffolk's finest are able to find the people responsible. It is such a shame that people cannot allow people to live peacefully. If they didn't like the statue they didn't have to look at it!
Baygirl65 April 23, 2011 at 07:07 PM
So with ya on that!!!! Amen!!!
Samantha Rupert April 23, 2011 at 08:09 PM
If you have any specific information on the culprits, would you be interested in letting Patch know so we can find out more about it. Thank you!
Hiram Walkers April 24, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Whoever the slimeballs who did this will be caught. The profile of the culprits will most likely be "at least 2... maybe 3 teenage males from the surrounding community." We all know what happens when kids start flapping and bragging to their friends! Word is, there is aready someone flapping to the cops! I am sure that their parents will be proud to see their childrens photos (mugshots) in the newspaper. I can't wait until the parents start making excuses. There is probably a connection to the "little angels" who slashed over a hundred tires last September. Hmmmm? On another note, I saw this statue a hundred times and can honestly say....I wasn't a big fan. But it became a part of the community and I miss it now. I am making a promise that I will be there at 1st district court in Central Islip when these dirtbags are arraigned! I will ask a couple of dozen members of the community to be there so the Judge dosen't go easy on these mutts. Let them spend a little time in Riverhead where they will be crying like the immature babies their parents raised them to be. I hope the parents who raised these "children" know where their pride and joys were the morning of the 10th!!
Deborah Smalling April 24, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Sad isn't the word . . . I have so many thoughts running through my head . . . I thought we had to worry about terrorists invading our land . . . but no it seems the worst are living among us . . . sad really is the word . . .
Yvonne Kleine April 24, 2011 at 07:33 PM
Many years ago, we used to have these little fleece sheep on our lawn. My husband used to delight in moving them around each night and the school children would try to guess where they were each morning. One morning, they were gone. Vandal commandoes had ripped them out of our yard and thrown them in pieces into the bay. My husband was so disheartened he refused to replace them. We loved the Venus of Bayport and this hurts us all. Irene, if you decide to replace her, I volunteer to help. We should all help.
IreneLap Banse April 24, 2011 at 09:30 PM
Thank you all so much for your thoughts and feelings about this...restores my faith on this transformative day...!
Mike April 25, 2011 at 04:17 PM
What a shame.....
Meg Seal April 26, 2011 at 12:36 AM
The lack of respect (not to mention morals, thoughtfulness, creativity and understanding) inherent in this act is really upsetting. But while a beautiful object was maliciously taken away, the ubiquitous lady will not be forgotten! Long live the Venus of Bayport!!!!!
Joe Fredette April 26, 2011 at 01:37 AM
Irene, as you may recall I was away when you sculpted the "Venus of Willendorf" after years of not seeing you Irene, I saw your sculpture and knew in my heart that you were OK>>>> Joe
Suzanne April 26, 2011 at 01:32 PM
Through this one mean hearted senseless act, vandals have managed to violate our whole community. I hope they find the culprits and hope they are held accountable. If they do turn out to be kids, hold their parents accountable too. I pass by the corner almost everyday and feel a tremendous sense of loss when I see the place where the venus stood for the past 23 years of my life. I truly hope justice will be served!
Hiram Walkers April 29, 2011 at 03:23 AM
Me too! I promise to be at the arraigment of these slugs when they are caught,,will you join me?
Roberta Laundrie April 29, 2011 at 01:00 PM
My whole family was saddened to hear about the loss of your statue. We loved that statue. My father was always charmed by it when he would visit, my children got a big kick out of it when they were little and began to appreciate its beauty as they grew up. I always loved it myself. It will be missed. It nearly brought us to tears to know anyone could do something so cruel and ugly. I'm so so sorry.
Karen Petersen April 30, 2011 at 03:01 AM
Irene, I'm so very sorry to read this as I've always loved this wonderful work and felt it gave a bit of distinction to the town. You're a very good artist and I hope this act of idiocy will motivate you to create something to put in its place. Do not allow this craziness to win!
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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