Artist upset over Giorgio's treatment of walrus sculpture

Owner replaced sculptor's name with dirty joke in Italian

Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2000

HAINES - Haines artist Judd Mullady wants his name back on a walrus sculpture that sits in front of a downtown Juneau restaurant. And he wants a joking attribution of the sculpture to a fictitious Italian artist taken off.

Mullady carved the marble seals in the lobby of the state Capitol and has other works displayed in Anchorage and Haines. His walrus sculpture sits in front of The Twisted Fish, a waterfront restaurant formerly called Giorgio at the Pier.

But he's not happy with the way Juneau restaurateur Giorgio Gallizio has displayed the 18-ton walrus he carved in the late 1980s. And he's incensed Gallizio installed a plaque at the foot of the piece that titles it "La Tricheca" and identifies it as carved from Italian marble by Italian sculptor Maestro Giobatta Menabelin.

Gallizio, who acquired the sculpture in l992 for $900, says he owns the piece and the property where it sits, so he has a right to do what he wants with it.

The reference to the Italian artist is an inside joke for Italians, Gallizio told the Chilkat Valley News.

"It's a joke for the Italian crewmembers who come off the ships. The name Giobatta, that's Italian for John the Baptist and Menabelin is slang for (penis). It's just for the crew members."

Mullady said Gallizio also imbedded the reclining walrus upright in 16 inches of concrete, in part to hide the real sculptor's signature.

Mullady said even though Gallizio owns the work, he doesn't have the right to mislead the public or to deprive the original artist of the publicity lost by having his name buried in concrete.

"Artists work on their names. All the sculptures I've sold are related to my name. People invest a little money and they see it grow."

Mullady said he sold the sculpture to Gallizio's business partner for three months' back rent in l992, when he was ill and short of money.

Gallizio plans to leave the walrus as is, plaque and all. "The monument is mine. It's on my property. I don't think I have to remove the plate because it's not hurting anybody."

Besides the Capitol lobby, Mullady's carvings can be seen at three spots in Haines. His most recent sale was to Kiewit-Pacific Co., which purchased a marble sculpture of a bear for its Alaska headquarters in Anchorage.

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