HENDERSON – The vigilant statue of World War II Admiral Husband E. Kimmel that has stood watch on the Henderson riverfront for a year and a half has been hauled away.
But don’t worry. In a few weeks, it’ll be back and better than ever.
The reason it was removed on Wednesday by the sculptor, Raymond Graf: Ever since it was installed in December of 2016, there have been some mistakes made by the foundry that have been bugging him.
They aren’t big or noticable to those who don’t look closely, but Graf is making good on his pledge to fix up his creation to the way it was meant to be.
There’s a big “button” on the lower back of Kimmel’s uniform jacket. It looks like an odd place for a button, and that’s because it’s not supposed to be there.
It’s actually a support attachment point leftover from the clay model that the statue was made from. It was covered with a clay button and was supposed to be taken off and smoothed over when the statue was cast in bronze. It even has the word “Remove” and an “X” on it. This would be the most noticeable problem. “It went through four different sets of eyes, you know, the wax person, the metal person, the sandblaster and then the final patina guy,” said Graff. “All four of those read ‘Remove X’ and did not take it off … that doesn’t look like it belongs on the suit, right?”
Also, the binoculars are not aligned as they should be. They are slightly cock-eyed or out of alignment. And the hinge attachment for the binoculars is not accurate and in the correct place.
Graff said the original binocular hinge must have fallen off or been cut off, and the foundry just made their own. (Trust us, these two details would be hard to spot unless you really knew what to look for.) As for how he will fix the alignment? He said he would literally use a two-by-four and a sledge hammer to “bang” it into alignment. “Bronze is soft enough.”
Graff, who obviously has the eye of an artist, said he couldn’t let the imperfections stand.
“That is pretty obvious stuff that shouldn’t be there,” he said Wednesday, adding he felt the need to fix it because “I more or less guarantee my work for 3,000 years.”
“It’s going to be here for a long time,” he said. “If anarchists and metal scarfers don’t get to it, you know, they have found statues at the bottom of the ocean that are around 3,000 years old. So the metal itself, the piece, the metal that it is made out of, will last.”
He said in this instance, he didn’t have a chance to inspect the statue until it was unveiled at the site in 2016.
Graff, talking and sweating just feet away from children frolicking in the riverfront splash fountain on Wednesday, said the repairs could probably be made here. But it’s better to take it back to his studio in Louisville and take his time.
Graff has also created a life-sized statue of John James Audubon for Henderson’s Audubon Mill Park on the riverfront and more than a dozen bronze Audubon bird statues scattered around town.
He said his relationship with the city and his presence here as an artist made it even more imperative for him to fix any errors.
“Statues stay up and hopefully they are there for the longevity of the city. It becomes a part of the fabric of it,” he said. “As much of an identity to the city as your waterfront. It’s part of Henderson. It’s kind of cool.”