A 7-foot-tall statue of Nep­tune, a model of Rich­mond artist Paul DiPasquale’s fa­mous statue in Vir­ginia Beach, was in­stalled at the Vir­ginia Mu­seum of Fine Arts this week.

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY COLLEEN CUR­RAN ccur­[email protected]­dis­ (804) 649-6151 Twit­ter: @coll­cur­ran

King Nep­tune is on the move.

A model of Paul DiPasquale’s fa­mous Nep­tune statue in Vir­ginia Beach moved into the Vir­ginia Mu­seum of Fine Arts sculp­ture gar­den in Rich­mond this week.

The 7-foot-tall bronze “ma­que­tte,” or sculp­tor’s model, was in­stalled at the base of the E. Clai­borne and Lora Robins Sculp­ture Gar­den wa­ter­fall near the main en­trance to the mu­seum.

“It’s the per­fect place for him,” the Rich­mond­based sculp­tor said by phone.

The Nep­tune at the VMFA is about one-fifth the size of the mas­sive art­work in Vir­ginia Beach. At 34 feet tall, that Nep­tune tow­ers over the board­walk with his gi­ant tri­dent.

The model at the VMFA is one of six bronze casts that were cre­ated in 2004. DiPasquale said he had some mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the foundry in China be­cause of cul­tural and lan­guage bar­ri­ers.

“Nep­tune has webbed fin­gers and they kept chang­ing that. They put long fin­ger­nails like claws on him,” DiPasquale said. “I said, ‘This is my King Nep­tune. He’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.’ I wanted veins and pointed to where I wanted the mus­cles.”

DiPasquale spent this past sum­mer adding de­tail to the ma­que­tte.

“This one is slightly dif­fer­ent than the Vir­ginia Beach statue. The fish are dif­fer­ent. The oc­to­pus is in a dif­fer­ent place and there are other small dif­fer­ences, like with the dol­phins,” DiPasquale said.

This is the first sculp­ture by DiPasquale to be added to the VMFA col­lec­tion.

Be­sides Nep­tune, DiPasquale is best known for the Arthur Ashe statue on Mon­u­ment Av­enue, the “Head­man” on Brown’s Is­land and the “Con­necti­cut” Amer­i­can In­dian statue that has been moved a few times and now peers over the James River from the Lucky Strike build­ing.

“The Nep­tune statue was a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity,” DiPasquale said. “The lo­ca­tion on the beach with noth­ing but the ocean and the sky in the back­ground. I re­ally wanted to get that.”

More than 50 artists sub­mit­ted pro­pos­als for the Vir­ginia Beach statue, but DiPasquale was the only Vir­ginia artist in the run­ning.

“I wanted to cre­ate a piece of art that would en­gage peo­ple,” DiPasquale said. “It takes some peo­ple by com­plete sur­prise. They don’t ex­pect to see an 11-foot tur­tle hang­ing in the air. Peo­ple get drawn into it.”

Nep­tune is a fa­vorite with beach­go­ers. Peo­ple pose for pic­tures and some­times kids climb on it.

But at the VMFA, like all the art, Nep­tune is not meant to be touched.

The Nep­tune ma­que­tte was gifted to the mu­seum by state Sec­re­tary of Fi­nance Aubrey Layne and his wife, Peggy. A na­tive of the Hamp­ton Roads area, Layne had served as King Nep­tune in the Nep­tune Fes­ti­val and pur­chased the ma­que­tte as a re­minder of his re­gal role.

When the Laynes moved from Hamp­ton Roads to Rich­mond, they knew they needed to find a new home for their Nep­tune.

Layne men­tioned the sculp­ture to VMFA Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Hos­sein Sa­did, who asked, “Why not put it here at the mu­seum?”

“It’s not of­ten that your CFO gets a ma­jor work of art,” VMFA Di­rec­tor Alex Ny­erges said.

“Peo­ple are go­ing to love it,” he added. “It’s in such an ap­pro­pri­ate spot, in the wa­ter, as god of the sea.”

Ny­erges said the mu­seum plans to keep adding works to the sculp­ture gar­den.

Other no­table ad­di­tions to the sculp­ture gar­den in­clude “Chloe,” the 24-foot­tall head of a young girl by Span­ish artist Jaume Plensa in­stalled in 2017, and Dale Chi­huly’s “Red Reeds” in­stalled in the re­flect­ing pool in 2012.

A rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony for “Nep­tune Vir­ginia Beach Ma­que­tte” will be held Tues­day at 6:15 p.m. at the VMFA, 200 N. Boule­vard.



The Nep­tune statue in Vir­ginia Beach (above) is 34 feet tall. The Rich­mond ver­sion is 7 feet tall.


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