A deeply divided City Commission voted to accept an offer from the owner of “Unconditional Surrender,” which would keep it on the bayfront for at least 10 years.
A World War II veteran wants to buy the sculpture, which is similar to the famous Life magazine photo of a sailor kissing a nurse on V-J Day, and donate it to the city.
Some city commissioners said they feared a possible copyright-infringement lawsuit from Time-Life and insisted The Sculpture Foundation, which owns the sculpture, get a license from the media company.
But sculptor Seward Johnson refused, because he said it was not a copy of the Life magazine photo.
Early last month, the commission issued a final deadline, saying if an agreement was not reached by Jan. 31, “Unconditional Surrender” would be removed from the bayfront in May.
Late last week, The Sculpture Foundation offered to place enough money in escrow to cover any possible copyright suit.
That was not enough to sway Commissioner Terry Turner, who said that accepting the donation would mean the city condones theft.
“I think we need a higher standard in government,” he said.
Commissioner Suzanne Atwell sided with Turner.
“I continue to feel we are being manipulated and being held hostage,” she said.
But Mayor Dick Clapp and Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner said they were satisfied that the escrow account would protect city taxpayers from any potential liability, which is what concerned them originally.
“What I see is a pretty strong protection,” said Kirschner.
Clapp and Kirschner also said they were swayed by the fact that Time-Life has not sued over at least five other similar sculptures around the country, including one that sat directly across the street from Time’s New York City headquarters.
Commissioner Fredd Atkins, who has consistently been in favor of accepting the donation, voted with the mayor and vice mayor.
After the vote, Virginia Hoffman, a member of the Public Art Committee and one of the most vocal opponents of “Unconditional Surrender,” was disappointed with the decision.
“It’s clear (the majority was) voting on a populist level,” she said.
Contact Robin Roy at email@example.com.
Currently 2 Responses
- Yes, Virginia, there is a public - one that knows REAL art. They also know when something is good for the City of Sarasota and, last, but far from least, how to honor our military men and women.
I noticed "Unconditional Surrender" has more people actually spending a lot of time admiring it than any other 'art' put up along the bayfront.
Of course, you probably prefer a car wreck in front of a major bank building. Did it occur to anyone who approved that scrap pile how insulting and painful it might be to anyone who had actually been in a major accident and lived? Probably not. After all, art is supposed to hurt - right? After seeing it the first time, I detoured around it until it was taken down.
My personal favorite was the picture frame that disgraced our bayfront. Honestly, Virginia, if you go to any framer in town, you can buy a much prettier or duller frame to 'look at a different scene depending on where you stand.' That was not art; it was a con job for which our town fell. Surely we have some real artists in our little art mecca. Why not look for them?
- Maybe Virginia Hoffman should keep her opinions to herself. It is clear that she has fought this statue all the way, and the majority of the public wants it there. Was her father or mother in the military in WW2, it means alot to some of us that had members of our family fight in that war. The statue also reminds us of the joy and elation that people felt when it was over. Maybe Ms. Hoffman should be a little less snobbish and a little more patriotic which includes honoring the public opinion since this is still a democractic country not ruled by the few but by the majority. For those that voted to help the gift from the veteran, God Bless You!
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