After a wait nearly as long as her fabled husband’s return from the Trojan War, a seven-foot woven bronze statue of Penelope once again looks over San Diego Bay.
The statue of Odysseus’ faithful wife by Fallbrook sculptor Michael Stutz, first unveiled on the San Diego side in 2008, had languished in storage since 2011 before being erected last week at Coronado’s Tidelands Park.
Penelope now gazes at the San Diego waterfront, looking directly at the midpoint of the Coronado Bridge, watching as the Navy ships go by.
“It’s almost like she’s waiting for her husband to return from the war, like she did in the Greek poem,” said Garry Bonelli, chairman of the Port of San Diego.
In the epic poem by Homer, the faithful Penelope awaits her husband’s return, putting off suitors by saying she must first weave a burial shroud for her father. Every day she weaves, and every night she undoes her work.
Stutz, who describes his technique as “using line to create form,” employed bronze strips to create a hollow statue that people can step into to see the world through Penelope’s eyes.
“It’s a much better site than where it was before. And it relates to the narrative,” he said, pointing to the Navy ships, and comparing the metal strips to the threads in the shroud Penelope was weaving.
Allan Tait, a senior project manager at the port, said he expects the statue to become a favorite spot for waterfront photos.
“Ten minutes after we had it in place, we had people taking selfies with her,” said Tait, who worked with Stutz to restore the statue after it’s long exile in a port facility in National City.
Stutz said Penelope resonates today because she represents enduring qualities in humanity.
“The reason we keep telling these stories is that they always apply — to every age,” he said.