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Locals face off over Bay Area statues' meaning

Some call the faceless rooftop wraiths creepy. Others invest the `corporate goddesses' with symbolism.

January 04, 2007|John M. Glionna | Times Staff Writer

One spooked blogger wrote: "Am I the only one reminded of the Grim Reaper or the Ghost of Christmas Future? I saw these figures as angels of death even before they witnessed a horrific accident in 1986, when the crane working on an adjacent building collapsed into the street ... crushing several people in their cars."

Investment banker Jeff Hagan -- whose 23rd-floor office at 580 California offers him a front-row view of the statues -- says the figures also disturb him. "They're creepiest after dark. There are these black crows that fly around the building and nest inside the faces," he said. "Once I looked right through one face and saw this flutter inside. I called out 'Yah, what's that?' I finally got used to them."

After 25 years of pondering the figures, insurance broker Sal Romano also has come to terms with the goddesses, and says, "Greek statues don't have eyes -- these don't have faces."

Such acceptance pleased the artist. "When they were first created, people disliked them," George Castanis said. "But the city mellowed. Now they've become part of what San Francisco is.

"Muriel was enormously happy about that."

john.glionna@latimes.com

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