Tacoma’s itinerant Goddess of Commerce appears to have finally found a permanent home.
Supporters of the 700-pound, seven-foot-tall, $122,000 bronze statue announced yesterday that a public unveiling will be held on Weds., Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. near the intersections of South Sixth Avenue, St. Helens Avenue, and South Baker Street, in the so-called Triangle Business District and Theater District.
In 2008, Griselda “Babe” Lehrer partnered with the Tacoma Historical Society to lead a fund-raising effort to make a replica of sorts of the original statue, which once represented Tacoma’s economy, adorned the former Chamber of Commerce building downtown, and was destroyed nearly 70 years ago.
The new statue, created by artist Marilyn Mahoney, aims to honor the city’s history and represent some of Tacoma’s economic and cultural signifiers. In one arm, the statue cradles a miniature model of the city’s skyline, including the Museum of Glass cone. The model freighter in her left hand signifies maritime commerce, crane earrings represent Tacoma’s identity as a major port, and salmon streaming down her back represent the fishing industry.
The statue was originally slated to be installed in Tollefson Plaza, but that idea was rejected. In March 2010, the City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected a request to place the statue atop the historic Carlton Building in downtown Tacoma. Finally, in October 2009, the Tacoma Arts Commission rejected a request by Lehrer for the City take ownership of the statue and locate it in Pierce Transit Plaza, which is on Broadway and near Theatre on the Square and Pantages Theater.
In a post on the Tacoma Daily Index‘s FeedTacoma blog, Goddess of Commerce supporter Rick Jones explained, “After completing the mural at Ben Gilbert Park, the Theater District Association, led by Seong Shin, turned its attention and effort on ‘cleaning up’ the intersection at St. Helens, Sixth, and Baker. Fred King, a retired Tacoma architect and a member of the Landmarks Preservation Commission that rejected the Goddess of Commerce, suggested that the Goddess of Commerce might be a nice element to the intersection’s improvement if it could be placed on private property. Blaine Johnson [president of the Theater District Association and downtown developer] contacted Babe [and] I contacted the ownership of the Mandarin Antiques property, who have generously accepted placement of the Goddess of Commerce on its property. I know of no ‘public’ work of art that has generated so much attention and controversy.”