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'WOMANHOOD' STATUTE'S HEAD REATTACHED STEEL REINFORCEMENT ROD ADDED TO DETER FUTURE ACTS OF VANDALISM

A three-man crew spent three hours today reattaching the head of The "Spirit of Womanhood," a statue that was vandalized in Delaware Park Oct. 11. "When we first heard about it, we were in a tizzy," Mark Griffis, the son of sculptor Larry Griffis, said of the decapitation, "because to sculpt and cast a new head would be a very big problem."

But the head later was found on the lawn of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, a quarter-mile away.

"My dad and I agreed that Griffis Studios should reattach the head, and we volunteered our time," said the younger Griffis, who sculpts "functional furniture" at the Griffis Studio complex on Essex Street.

Joseph Koziol, a top art studio sculpture welder, was hired, scaffolding was set up and parts ordered so the studio's portable welder could handle bronze.

"It probably took the vandals five minutes using an electric-powered saw," said the art work's creator, Larry Griffis. "It took us months to get the welding head we needed and most of a morning to repair the work. And it cost $1,000. The only good thing is we can repair a seam on her arm, where it cracked over the years and began leaking rust."

At midday today, the men hoisted the 30-pound head and repositioned it.

"Next spring, when the weather is better, we plan to patina the scar on her neck where the head was rewelded so the joint will be invisible," Griffis said.

No motive for the hack-saw vandalism has been determined as the culprits were not found.

"We're mystified why it was done. The only thing we can figure is that Bart Simpson decapitated a statue in his 'town' the week before it happened," Griffis said, referring to the popular television cartoon program. "I guess art imitates life, or life imitates television, or something. But this was a real act of violence against art."

The repair will incorporate one change from the original statue.

"We are inserting a stainless-steel rod in the 'Spirit's' neck. That will make it very hard for vandals to behead her in the future."

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