Have your say about the "Unconditional Surrender" statue.

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Here are the first few comments submitted to AnythingArts.com's Newsletter about the Unconditional Surrender statue downtown. Have an opinion to share? Email us at UnconditionalSurrender@AnythingArts.com

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I find this statue to be out of place in Sarasota. It would be better placed in Orlando, in or near Disneyland (or is it World?) The upkeep would be included with that of Mickey Mouse or Pluto. We have had and do have some excellent artists who have become world renowned for their sculptures. Isn't it embarrassing to our city not to use their work? How does that look to the visitors, who come to the "city of art" and only see work from outside of the city? We must show off our best and what better way than to support our own artists? Also, what ever happened to those "grave stones" we just had to have at 5 points? Isn't that another example of why we need to buy from our own?? To watch this "sculpture deteriorate is appalling. Lets have people who know what they are doing (artists, gallery owners, art directors, and the art musuem curators ) make the choices for us... Maxine Masterfield, graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art,(major in painting & minor in sculpture)



I am impartial as to whether the statue stays or not or is moved. However Virginia Hoffman, the lady from Burns Court and the other self appointed arbiters of what is art were not elected to decide what is art and what is not. The have given their opinion, now they should shut up. The public seems to like the statue so let it stay.As for the legality. That is between the artist of the photograph and the sculptor. Stan Ross



I understand the patriotism generated by Unconditional Surrender and we do have a lot of veterans in our community for whom this iconic image has significant value. However, this object is not well executed from a construction perspective. Even with a fund created for upkeep, this object will have maintenance needs that exceed what is in reserve over the long haul. It just isn't a good use of money for public art - remember the maintenance issues with the Memory Walk in Five Points Park? That was made of granite and had significant maintenance costs with a contractual commitment from the City to maintain it - the City was sued by the artist if you recall. We really don't need to repeat this history. Unconditional Surrender in addition is not a unique piece of art - there are other copies of it around the country - this one, I believe, is not even the one that was originally here for Season of Sculpture. Why do we want this generous donor to put out money for a reproduction? There are so many reasons to say no. Valerie Dorr


Art should make you squirm.
Art should make your brain stretch. Art should get you off your seat of conventional, traditional thinking.
Unconditional Surrender achieves these aims.
A relatively conservative town like Sarasota needs some controversial art. Too many artists just create the expected. Few push that proverbial envelope. This sculpture does.
It serves as a focal point for tourists. Is that bad? Without it we have another pretty and typical Florida waterfront: restaurant; boats; parking; fountain. Ho hum. Pretty yes, exciting no.
Let's become a bit more alive and take a chance.
My only exceptions to permanently keeping the sculpture involve the potential copyright lawsuit and the upkeep in a sunny, salty environment. Barring those as impediments, Sarasota needs such an exciting sculpture.
When few talk about a sculpture or other piece of art, we hear that tacit collective yawn. Let's live a little. Keep Unconditional Surrender!
Jeffrey Weisman



My mother and father have lived in Sarasota for 30 years. They are not tourists.
My father was depressed, had severe dementia, and had lost interest in everything. He wouldn't go out of the house unless my mother & I made him go for a doctor's appointment.
On one appointment day, I swung by the statue. He 'woke up' and got very excited when he saw the statue. He wanted to get out of the car to see it up close. When he and my mother got to the base of the statue, he swung her around for a kiss similar to the statue. (They couldn't bend that easily.) Mom loved it! He kept saying that it was a representation of the years that he remembered so well -- the years when he met my mother when he worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. And, New York, where he was from.
Then when either of my sisters came to visit, he would insist on going out to show them the statue. My sisters couldn't believe his reaction and how animated he got.
My dad passed away this past February at the age of 93. I was so grateful that we had him 'awake' for those trips to the Bayfront. If this statue could make my parents as well as so many people happy, I say keep it. Alice Cotman




The statue's idea is far better than the statue itself
. There is an awkwardness to the forms that seems not at all natural. I see nothing wrong with the idea or it being a copy of a famous photo. The photo was superb, filled with the intensity of the moment. That spontaneity is lost in this giant statue. The sailor looks like he is idly bending while she seems staged, like a model. I do not like it because it has none of the freshness of the moment it is trying to portray. It is not, in my view, great art, however, I appreciate the idea of it and 'get' why people keep having their pictures taken with it. It's very big, again, no reason to call it great art.
Sarasota isn't really a sophisticated art town. There are infinite levels of art, superb art, bad art, and every kind of art in-between.
The lack of sophistication is very accurately reflected in 'Unconditional Surrender' also the 'David' copy at the museum. I think the town should pay for better art or stop bragging about how artistic Sarasota is. If Sarasota wants itself to be artistically sophisticated then prove it. Let people with artistic expertise make artistic decisions. Then learn to appreciate the art they choose, even if, at first, one doesn't "get" it. Art should never be voted on or people will be surrounded by mediocrity and never genius.
I would like to see Unconditional Surrender installed somewhere else in town. Not all art has to be top notch if people enjoy it. Maybe in the center of one of the round-abouts? Or, perhaps, near an ice cream stand. Great for any business. Maybe they can put it outside the baseball stadium? The problem with putting it on the bay front is that we should pick art to represent all of Sarasota not just the WWII faction, toward the future, not just the past. It is too specific. Karle H. Murdock



My first thought is how many starving potential Einstiens could this feed?
Then I come to the feeling that UC is as much art as the Edsel in your garage. To be fair they did make more than six Edsels, but production has not stopped at the UC factory They will catch up fast at these prices. Vincent Dessberg



I do enjoy seeing "the KISS"
. It reminds me of better times and the end of a WWll.
It is important to remember how much so many gave to keep us FREE and the joy of the battle being over.
Lynn Chancer Hochberg





Thoroughly representative...of Sarasota's love affair with bad taste and long history of disdain for art. It reminds me of some flea market attraction on a desolate Nebraska highway, or something you ignore at Disney World on your way to the bathroom. Probably where it should have been installed.
The original photo that this "work" was derived from, was a great moment in photojournalism, representing a collective "gasp of relief" that one of the most horrendous eras in human history had finally come to an end. Our soldiers had come back, at least alive, from the brink of Hell. It also conveyed a message of hope for future generations- We can rebuild, recover and replenish. Quite possibly, even the photographer was unaware of the importance of this pic when he took it. And even tho tragedy still lurked in the future, this picture represented the now. And still does.
But, the powers that be in Sarasota, were not content with leaving this piece of photographic paper in our subconscious album. Always striving to erect more garish slabs of cold, unfeeling plaster, concrete and rock, they opted to turn this great art into a 4 story upskirt shot. Which seems to be it's only purpose, as I watched first-hand, motorists pulling over to get a picture taken under the billowing dress, in various lascivious poses.
Maybe the city could use the pic of the napalmed nude little girl from Viet Nam for another project? A 3 story attraction for visiting pedophiles. What the hell, history is there to be plastered. Sarasota's strip mall mentality prevails. Karen A. Pauline





It is indicative of a generation but not a connection to Sarasota in general. I would prefer to see a sculpture by a local artist that has achieved notable stature as an artist and is known for having lived or is living in Sarasota. Marlene M. Hauck




Wasn’t it Abbott & Costello who had the endless sketch that was based on “That’s Bad/No that’s good...That’s good/No, that’s bad!”? (I’m waiting for Lazy Fairy to cop that one and apply it to this statue.)
Before even getting into personal opinion here’s the one big question that immediately leaps to my mind: If my bird bath has to be removed from my yard during hurricane warnings, what the heck are they going to do about this thing? I’M SERIOUS! I have visions of it being blown north across Ringling Causeway blocking the fleeing LBK-ers trying to get to higher ground... just this giant kiss which, now horizontal, looks like a 40’s couple in the throes of stony passion building up to the horizontal mambo as they lie across all the lanes of the causeway with traffic backed up to the circle and those unlucky enough to be trapped on the bridge being blown off into the water...
That said... all artists hate censorship and withholding art from public that wants it strikes me as a form of censorship.
Personally I hate the thing. It reminds me of when my family took summer car trips when my sibs and I were little and we’d scan the horizon for monstrosities intended to catch the eye of tasteless tourists and lure them into some roadside freak show.
Whether it is or isn’t art can be debated forever. If some people love it, it shouldn’t be banned BUT COULD IT BE ADAPTED? Two ideas:
1 – Keep it this size and convert it to a lighthouse, place it somewhere that it could be appreciated for both style (and I use that word loosely) and function. Or...
2 - If it were LIFE SIZE (in comparison to a normal person, not Godzilla) wouldn’t it please everyone? Those who loved it could still go see it, it would seem MORE realistic, you could take better pictures with it because of the perspective...instead of looking like you were something on the bottom of the statue’s shoe you’d be in perspective... and newcomers might even be delighted when they got up to it to discover it wasn’t real people!
COMPROMISE! You can’t please all the people all the time but you can try not to piss everybody off, right?
Charmaine Engelsman-Robins



I LOVE this statue
in our city !!! The story behind it on such a historical day, exemplifies the jubilation that Americans felt when they heard the news... Since we have soldiers in other countries, and we are going through tough economical times, it helps to have some nostalgic things to remind us that times will get better...Everyone I know that has seen this statue admires it and hopes it remains here. Maybe, when the time comes, that it needs paint or repairs, volunteer artists just might appear, as we are the culture city !!!! Peggy Lynn Knapp


Disclaimer First: I don't know much about art, but I know what I like. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, here is my pedestrian opinion on Unconditional Surrender: It must go. It is, to me, an eyesore. It is tacky, over large and has zip to do with Sarasota and its history. Yes, we have veterans here, but that is true for every city.
Thank you again for this forum. Helen Harrington


Well, I am so glad you asked.
I mean NO offense to anyone with an opinion....but as you had said before Rick, during MJ's death....We are in 2 useless wars, we have 12 million unemployed, and Americans at an alarming rate have been foreclosed on. HALF of the country doesn't have health care. Our country is fat with obesity and illness. I have 2 ... Read Moredegrees, and lost my job, and I myself might drop health care. So to see page after page and days of whining by people who obviously have a house, health insurance, job, and aren't fighting in a war tells me, wow, if the unconditional surrender is the only issue they have in their life..geez.... life must be good for them and I'm doing something so wrong !
Also, who is anyone to judge. When I see Springsteen and U2 on stage, and get that great feeling inside, who is anyone to tell me, that which makes me the happiest isn't good music? Isn't the point of art and music to bring up emotions that stir the soul? If a tooth stirs someones soul, who am I to say different? I drove by the water front at 11 pm, a few days ago. They were out in droves taking pictures and laughing. Who am I to say the feeling inside isn't worthy? Telling people something isn't art, because a select few say it isn't is no different than my neighbor telling me her religion is right, and her political party is the best.........Carolyn Repeta



it is a copy, not art, and sucks. how can Sarasota become the sophisticated arts community we so desire with copy-cat "art" like this is so prominently displayed? it makes us look 2nd class.
wait, I have roughly 360 more words to use. what to do..........
rick carlisle


Of course, it's art. It is a creation that invokes a myriad of responses from viewers. For Americans of the WWII generation still living, it represents a moment of incredible triumph and relief and unity. As a Realtor, twice in the past few months I've driven "Greatest Generation" clients past the statue as we visited properties. In both cases they remarked how the statue reminds them of a joyous feeling they had shared with all other Americans in 1945. One elderly lady said the feeling of watching Armstrong step on the moon in 1969 was similar, but not nearly as strong. Rod Rawlings

My opinion is that the statue should stay..and it is a piece of art regardless what the council says.
Seems to me that is just an excuse to have their way. The sculpture represents different things to different people like Freedom, Peace, Joy, Love and Hope which we could use a lot more of these days. And it makes me smile whenever I see it! I think the location would be better if it was on Island Park where the boats would be greeted coming into Sarasota Bay could easily see it as well as from the Ringling Bridge. This way there wouldn't be a distraction to the drivers and also this would eliminate parking congestion. Blessings, Anjule Schell

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Comment by Beverly A. Smith on July 10, 2011 at 7:11pm

I think the statue is all wrong for many reasons.

Life size in bronze would have worked.

I believe it is an eye sore to the horizon of Sarasota Bay.

Comment by Virginia Hoffman on August 26, 2009 at 9:34am
Rik I thought you were tierd of this subject.

Latest on "Unconditional Surrender"
City Commissioners will vote at the Tuesday, September 8th 2:30 p.m. session.
Public Art Board report will take place in the front end of meeting.
Public input and a presentation by Dr. Swier & Brenda Terris will take place at "unfinished business"
later on in the meeting.

All documents submitted to the City Commssioners is availible on this difficult to navigate site.
http://www.sarasotagov.com/InsideCityGovernment/Content/CAC/AgendasMinutes/AgMinMainPage.htm

I hope that the Visual Arts communitty will attend this meeting to lend your voice to this disscussion so far it is dominated by others.
Comment by Doug Miles on August 17, 2009 at 4:35pm
As long as private donations pay for it, then I have no problem with it being where it is. If public funds are being used to keep this thing afloat, then that's a waste of money.
Comment by Barbara Gavel on August 14, 2009 at 3:21pm
I love all kinds of art, but this really belongs at Disney World. It will never do the photo justice.
Comment by Mary Phillips on August 10, 2009 at 3:10pm
I love Charmaine's proposed compromise. We can't start dictating too much what is or isn't art. But we can be fiscally responsible (maintenance costs considered) with the limited budgets available these days for public art.
Comment by Vincent Taschetti on August 8, 2009 at 12:15pm
Comment by vincent taschetti 3 hours ago
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Art is subjective. It is in the eye of the viewer. If a Auguste Rodin masterpiece were exhibited on the bay front the same silly argument would be occurring. If we would all go sit for lunch in the sculpture garden at MOMA we'd would realize the point.

There are more important matters at hand.

A fresh look at the downtown, the bay front, making the downtown and the bay front more "foot" friendly, a permanent sculpture garden, more film production, live music in our city park, listening to open-minded points of view from the international community, competitions for artists, designers from all over the world, a community that comes together to improve this city, appreciation for all different ideas, listening to the visionaries. That is what matters, not this silly argument.

Ask the young members of our community for their thoughts... so we can keep them here.

They are the future.
Comment by Clint Weldon on August 8, 2009 at 10:06am
ONE MORE THING: If we're going to put up a 20 foot statue of a girl, can she at least be wearing fishnets and leather? THEN you'd have something!
Comment by Clint Weldon on August 8, 2009 at 10:04am
I have to say I'm in agreement with Mike. The world already perceives Florida as a place where 'old people go to die' or 'god's waiting room,' so is there any need to hammer that point home with a 20 ft tall statue" Unlike most people here, I am a native. And unlike most people who say they are a native, I was actually BORN here - I didn't just move here 10 years ago. That said, I can't tell you how ridiculous it is to walk around this city, which has branded itself as an 'arts community' and see the same 'art' everywhere you go. Apparently the only things anyone knows how to paint around here are sea shells and palm trees and the only audience anyone is catering too is the over 65 crowd. We really need to loosen up here and get the blood flowing in this city or we're just going to be boring forever. Maybe that's what people want, I don't know. I'm under 50 so I guess my opinion is irrelevant anyway, right?
Comment by Sean Colson on August 7, 2009 at 1:35pm
It doesn’t represent Sarasota. It’s great for a temporary display to get attention, but should be moved to Times Square in New York City where the original photo was taken. In Times Square it will get the attention it needs and will fit in with the skyline of the taller buildings. Also it would be closer to J. Seward Johnson’s (the artists home). I feel Sarasota sculptures should be made by local Sarasotan’s that reflect the area.
Comment by Darian Hoyt Miller on August 6, 2009 at 6:11pm
So are we going to line the bayfront with "sculpture" recognizing everyone's war ?
I grew up a military brat with Vietnam War news at dinner every night. I don't want a
gargantuan statue of a young girl running down the street in flames. Where does it stop?
When the survivors of WWII all pass will the piece in question just be kitsch?
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