The Ashland Beacon
A moment years in the making happened at the Ashland Riverfront this past Friday evening. The three statues that have caused a great amount of excitement, as well as a little controversy, around the Ashland area were officially unveiled with a ceremony that included a short fireworks display.
The official ceremony began just after 6 p.m. at the Paramount Arts Center. Marketing and Community Engagement Coordinator, David Miller, said that he could not think of a “more fitting place than [the Paramount Arts Center] to commemorate and welcome Ashland’s newest historic artistic landmark.” Miller said that “years of artistic and logistical work” went into the statues and that they tell a story of “endurance, [Ashland's] natural beauty, and the rich faith tradition in our community.”
Mayor Steve Gilmore then took the stage to talk about the statues. He praised the “benevolent native of Ashland who made this happen” and some of the other people who were involved including the City Commissioners, Chris Pullem and Mike Graese. He also introduced Sinia Serran-Pagan, the daughter of the artist who works as his graphic designer and his son, Francisco Serran-Pagan, who works as his understudy and had a hand in some of the carving work on the statues.
Mayor Gilmore spoke of the statues that were built in China because they had the largest warehouse as well as having the “best bronze in the world.” He said that Vulcan recognizes the “work ethic of our people,” Venus recognizes “that we have a lovely environment,” and Genesis represents the four elements of air, fire, earth, and water, with the fifth element added to include God. Gilmore said that he is hoping “that our art community will be enhanced by these statues” because there are a lot of very talented local artists in the Ashland area.
The Paramount then played a video of the creation of the three statues. The video was put together by Sinia Serran-Pagan and featured all three statues in various stages of completion. It also showed how the Ashland statues stand up in comparison to other statues of classical mythological characters in the world and what the artist meant for each statue to represent to the city of Ashland.
Following the video, Mayor Gilmore invited sculptural artist, Gines Serran-Pagan up on stage where he proceeded to present him with a key to the city of Ashland. Serran-Pagan said that he has been “working as an artist all my life and I have never seen the involvement of everyone in a collective work like [Ashland.]” While he was speaking, another video produced by his daughter played in the background highlighting all of his accomplishments around the world.
Serran-Pagan says that he came to visit Ashland and was invited to a friend's home. He was asked to create statues that talked about the “hope and future of Ashland” that would “open new doors and a new future, mostly to new generations.” He said he was asked to “create a symbol, something that would identify Ashland.”
While visiting, Serran-Pagan looked at a Paul Blazer High School yearbook and noticed the symbols on the front of the book that were taken from symbols that were on the building at the school. The symbols were circles with lines going through them. He used the symbols as a basis for the statue, Genesis. He made the statue around the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. He “put them together with God to create life.”
Serran-Pagan referred to the statue, Vulcan, as a “symbol of the workers.” He said Genesis is a symbol of “faith, new beginnings and the origin of life.” He said Venus is a symbol of beauty and the Tree of Life with the Ash tree that she holds in the outstretched palm of her hand. He said that the statues are cast in bronze that will last a minimum of five thousand years. He said that [the statues] are “the only thing that I can offer [the citizens of Ashland] in exchange for this beautiful symbol” referring to the key that he was given to the city of Ashland.
From the Paramount, people loaded up onto four city buses to be taken to the Ashland Riverfront for the official lighting of the statues. The plaque that explains the meaning behind each statue was unveiled but will actually be replaced soon with another plaque that has more visible lettering. After a brief fireworks display, Mayor Gilmore called for the light show to begin.
Genesis constantly revolves on its foundation and the lines going through it light up with different colors at different times. Mayor Gilmore says that there are currently about fifteen light programs being run by a computer on the statues but there are about seventy-five additional programs available. The statues will be lit every night from dusk until dawn for the foreseeable future. Gilmore says that “until you see them [lit up] at night, you can't really understand how significant they are.”
City Commissioner, Matt Perkins said that “as a city, we're just humbled by this generous gift from a native Ashlander to the people of Ashland.” He hopes that “this is one of those moments that we will look back on and say that this put Ashland on the map for fine arts.” Perkins said that he “got goosebumps when the artist was talking about the symbolic nature of Venus representing the beauty of our community and the Ash tree representing Ashland.”
Perkins said that he believes the statues will become a “symbol of hope for our community.” He says sometimes we think “why don't we get special attention? Why don't we get good things?” He said “this is one of those moments where we have got not just a good thing, but a great thing.”