ASHLAND The three bronze sculptures sitting at the Port of Ashland were lit up for the public for the first time Friday night.

The City of Ashland hosted a dedication ceremony for the group of statues at the riverfront. The lighting ceremony took place after a brief presentation at the Paramount Arts Center. Two videos showcasing the progress of each statue and the works by Ginés Serrán-Pagán were shown and he shared why he made the statues for the community. Serrán-Pagán is a world-renowned Spanish artist and created the pieces of art given to the city by an anonymous donor.

“I think it’s wonderful that someone thought enough of their hometown to do that (donate these statues). I know I would if I could, but I think it’s wonderful,” said Terri Wonn of Ashland. “You have to see it to believe it. This was the first time I’ve seen them. It’s more than I thought it would be.”

The three-piece collection is the largest combination of classical mythology and contemporary art in the United States. Venus is the largest female classical mythology statue in the world, according to a press release from the city and echoed Serrán-Pagán. The unique monuments mix traditional and contemporary styles in America.

Genesis is designed based on images found at Ashland Blazer High School and is symbolic of the city’s faith-based community. Vulcan is depicted hammering on a forge, symbolic of the city’s history with metal and steel. Venus, Vulcan’s wife, offers an Ash tree, symbolizing the city’s natural beauty and love.

“We’re really proud of this,” said Mayor Steve Gilmore. “I hope our citizens are. It’s a gift to our citizens.”

The three bronze sculptures are expected to greatly enhance Ashland’s allure while advancing the city’s artistic offerings, drawing in art enthusiasts worldwide and allowing Ashland to grow into a comprehensive artists community.

 “This is such a big deal for us, bigger than I think we even realize,” said city commissioner Amanda Clark. “Seeing everything laid out in terms of the artist and how well-known he is and the people who follow them and to know this is here, it’s almost overwhelming. To stand here under them and see all the people who came out in the rain is more than I can put into words.”

There was one protestor outside of the Paramount Arts Center who spoke out against the statues at the riverfront.

“I’m out here tonight to voice my Christian opposition to pagan statues in my local town,” said Zachary Humphrey of Ashland.

Humphrey said he was out in the rain and cold because he wanted to share the gospel with the people who had come out to the dedication ceremony.

“Biblically speaking, idols are condemned in the scripture,” said Humphrey. “Idols by definition are figures made with human hands, be it gold or clay. These idols are to represent gods. Whether or not we worship them as gods doesn’t make it any different that they are supposed to represent that still.”

There will be a fence placed around the statues and there will be surveillance on them to protect them from vandalism. The donor has also set up an account with $50,000 for any repairs or maintenance that might have to be done on the structures.

Gilmore presented Serrán-Pagán a key to the city.

For more information about Serrán-Pagán, visit serran-paganart.com.

(606) 326-2651 |

tevans@dailyindependent.com

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