The water has been turned off and drained, but their ghostly march continues, forever frozen in bronze.

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Once the water was shut off, Susie Anders cleaned the mineral deposits and other environmental elements from the glass tile mosaic behind the bronze figures in the Marcha de Galvez Fountain.

Their journey has faded since sculptor Frank Hayden's 30-foot-long relief sculpture was installed in 1980, with the rich chocolate bronze giving way to environmental elements, obscuring faces and their history.

That wasn't Hayden's intention for his tribute to Bernardo de Galvez's 1779 march to disengage the British in Baton Rouge. His depiction of 18th century Louisianians is no different from the state's 21st century residents: No two faces are the same.

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Susie Anders uses a paintbrush to cover the Marcha de Galvez Fountain's bronze figures with a dark wax, which not only preserves the sculpture but restores its patina. On the opposite side of the plaza behind her is the Oliver Pollock monument she and Andrew Baxter restored in March.  

Some noses are longer and some faces rounder with all eyes fixed on a point beyond the horizon, waiting for impending battle.

Life returns to their faces as Anders Art Conservation owner Susie Anders applies heat to their bronze forms, wipes them down with a bronze cleaner then covers them with a dark wax. It's similar to the process she and national bronze restorer Andrew Baxter used in the March restoration of Hayden's Oliver Pollock monument on the opposite side of downtown Baton Rouge's Galvez Plaza.

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Susie Anders uses a paintbrush to cover the Marcha de Galvez Fountain's bronze figures with a dark wax, which not only preserves the sculpture but restores its patina. 

That's where the bronze figures in Hayden's fountain stand: Galvez Plaza. They form the centerpiece of the monument he titled "Marcha de Galvez" and stand near the spot where Americans and Louisiana militiamen gathered in 1779 to battle the British at New Fort Richmond.

The fort isn't there anymore. Lt. Col. Alexander Dickson, the British Army commander in Baton Rouge, built it in 1779 as the Revolutionary War continued to rage in the area.

Bernardo de Galvez, colonial governor of Spanish Louisiana, led a force of some 1,000 men from New Orleans to the fort. The militia's eventual victory prevented the British from gaining control of the Mississippi River.

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The Marcha de Galvez Fountain as it appeared before restoration. Glass tiles behind the bronze figures were discolored by environmental elements, as were the sculpted figures. 

Galvez was aided in this effort by Pollock, an Irish merchant and financier in New Orleans, who won favor with the Louisiana territory's Spanish officials.

Pollock also had land ties to Baton Rouge, monetarily supported the American forces in the Revolutionary War and is credited with inventing the dollar sign.

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Susie Anders uses a paintbrush to cover the Marcha de Galvez Fountain's bronze figures with a dark wax, which not only preserves the sculpture but restores its patina. On the opposite side of the plaza behind her is the Oliver Pollock monument she and Andrew Baxter restored in March.  

This is where the two monuments converge, not only in historical reference but in commemoration. The Baton Rouge Bicentennial Celebration commissioned Hayden to create the Pollock sculpture in 1976.

Restoration work is under way on the Marcha de Galvez Fountain in downtown Baton Rouge's Galvez Plaza. Staff video by Robin Miller

Hayden taught in Southern University's art department. He was a prolific sculptor whose works can be found worldwide with probably the biggest collection of his artworks nestled in public and private spaces throughout the Baton Rouge area.

He named his Pollock monument "A Tribute to Oliver Pollock," which was installed in 1979. He was then commissioned to create "Marcha de Galvez" fountain as a counterpart to the Pollock piece. The fountain was installed in 1980.

But the setup was different back then. The bronze figures hovered above the water, which filled the basin area by way of a side pump. That configuration was changed in 2010 with the installation of a glass tile mosaic behind the figures.

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Susie Anders uses a paintbrush to cover the Marcha de Galvez Fountain's bronze figures with a dark wax, which not only preserves the sculpture but restores its patina. 

Water was redirected to flow against the backdrop of the tiles into the basin. Over time, mineral deposits from the water and other environmental elements have darkened the tiles and discolored the sculpture.

Which is why it was marked as one of nine public monument restorations in the Capital City funded by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

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Susie Anders uses heat to loosen environmental elements on the Marcha de Galvez Fountain's bronze figures before coating them with a dark wax.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in City Plaza was first on that list. Anders restored it in 2021.

Next up was Pollock, in which Anders assisted Baxter, owner of the Richmond, Va.-based Bronze et al, known for its restoration work throughout the country. Baxter was hired for his previous restoration work on Pollock. 

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Once the water was shut off, Susie Anders cleaned the grime and other environmental elements from the glass tiles behind the bronze figures in the Marcha de Galvez Fountain.

Anders moved on to the quick restoration of the statue of Hebe, cup bearer of the gods, on North Boulevard in April. But the fountain job is taking more time. Several weeks, in fact.

The figures are detailed and many, and Hayden connected them with words from French merchant, financier and poet Julien Poydras' 1779 poem, "The capture of the bluff at Baton Rouge by his Lordship Galvez": 

"What mortal God comes here in His rage, to trouble the peace of my happy banks ... To follow me, you left your fields, your loving children and faithful wives ... Brave warriors, companions of my glory, it was with your hands, today, that I won my victory."

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Susie Anders restores the Marcha de Galvez Fountain, which stands on the opposite side from the Oliver Pollock Monument in Galvez Plaza against the backdrop of Louisiana's Old State Capitol.  

"The words were covered by the elements," said Sarah Gardner, project manager for Civic Leadership Initiatives at Baton Rouge Area Foundation. "They're coming through as Susie restores the monument."

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Susie Anders wipes down a bronze figure in the Marcha de Galvez Fountain after loosening the environmental elements with heat. 

Other details also are emerging.

"I have to apply a few additional steps, because there was an accumulation of mineral deposits from the water," she said. "The cleaning process is taking a bit longer. The hardest thing to clean is the combined accumulation of the mineral deposits from the water and the biological material, so it takes a kind of a combination of some pressure washing, soft washing, and mechanical methods and light acidic solutions to try and soften and remove those."

As she cleans, Hayden's vision reappears. He was known for incorporating a lineup of people in many of his sculptures, all of which appeared identical from afar.

But on closer examination, it's clear that each of Hayden's figures is an individual.

And in the Galvez fountain, they are as unique as the people in the state they represent.


Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com