Graffiti Removal in Randolph

Whale Dance by Jim Sardonis
‘Whale Dance’ by Jim Sardonis, July 2019, bronze with dark patina, 16’ x 12’, Randolph, VT. Photo by Lelonie Oatway.

Brief History

Thirty years ago, the sculptor Jim Sardonis of Randolph, Vermont created two large black granite whale tales entitled “Reverence.” This sculpture spent 10 years in Randolph before being sold and moved to Technology Park in South Burlington. Here it remains today. It was originally meant to anchor a sculpture park but that is yet to come about.

Recently the Preservation Trust of Vermont and the Vermont Community Foundation commissioned Jim to create a larger bronze version. “Whale Dance” was installed in July of 2019 and sits on the same spot where "Reverence" spent its first ten years. As you can see in the photo above, "Whale Dance" is framed by a stunning view of the mountains beyond.


Jim contacted me to remove graffiti. Text in crayon or lipstick pen appeared in two areas each about 10" square. I agreed to address this immediately even thought it was the middle of winter, because graffiti is not only damaging and often ugly, it also encourages more graffiti.



Removal was easy. I applied acetone which removes most paint and other markings from metal without disturbing the patina. Acetone can be used no matter how cold the weather. Luckily the graffiti was not etched which would have required much more work.

It took about a half-hour. After removing the graffiti I applied a dark wax at the artist’s request.


In addition to this work, I also inspected the sculpture.

There are no cracks. About two dozen pits of 1/16" diameter or less appear across the surface. These are not a concern since there's no indication of any penetration below the patina such as green spots or streaks.

There are scuff marks where kids have climbed over the wide lower surfaces.

A light green sheen appears on the surface indicating that weather may be causing slight oxidation. The artist informed me that this is by design. It makes the dark surface feel more organic and alive. This is surprisingly effective and a wonderful treatment I never saw before.

Special Effect on Whale Dance by Jim Sardonis
Scuff marks, pits, and faint green sheen.

The sculpture is embedded in the hillside. The foundation is hidden under the surface of the ground. For additional information about the installation please refer to this fine article at

I recommended signage which is proven to reduce vandalism. I also suggested coating the entire surface with a polymer for added protection which we agreed to do in the future.

As part of my guarantee, I will return to inspect this work annually for free.

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