Vallarta Living | Art Talk | August 2005
|Artist’s Busty Mermaid Statue Draws Some Alarm In Florida|
Angel Streeter - Sun-Sentinel
Artist Norman Gitzen is determined to defend his buxom babe. After all, he created her.
|Her cup runneth over - Norman Gitzen’s The Siren is getting a lot of notice. (Photo: Mark Randall/Sun-Sentinel)|
Lovingly shaped out of hand-pounded steel and bronze, the mermaid, called The Siren, has provoked spirited debate about art and the obscene. With her arched back, the center of attention has been on her breasts.
The sculpture is part of the village's recently established public art program. About 21 artists have loaned art work to be displayed in public places throughout the village.
But it's The Siren, prominently displayed at the entrance to the Wellington Community Center, that has folks talking. One of the local weekly newspapers even began a poll, asking residents whether the mermaid should stay, go or be moved to a less conspicuous location.
The debate was prompted by a single anonymous phone call to the village switchboard by a woman complaining about the stacked statue. She promised to take her concerns to the Village Council.
Gitzen plans to be at Tuesday's council meeting to defend the curvy creature.
"If they find her obscene, are they saying all large-breasted women are obscene?" he said. "The world is full of large-breasted women."
Besides, Gitzen thinks The Siren is anatomically correct or maybe even undersized. He is searching for an engineer to see whether her breasts are proportional to her 10-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide stature.
A scientific analysis might find her "underboobed," Gitzen said.
Many residents seem to have no problem with the sculpture. "I think it's pretty cool, and I have children," resident Rita Dorr said.
Anita Nebb thought she would look bigger in person.
"Some people say they should cover the breasts," she said. "Let them go to the museum. Some people want to bring up their families with blinders on."
Gitzen, who lives west of Lake Worth, was inspired to make the sculpture after a longtime interest in mermaids.
"They're graceful, provocative and scary at the same time," he said.
A cabinetmaker turned artist, Gitzen began sculpting the piece about six years ago. It was a work in progress when Vice Mayor Lizbeth Benacquisto saw it during the Wellington Art Society's annual Art Walk.
Benacquisto's interest in the piece motivated Gitzen to finish the mermaid in time for the village's art program.
Benacquisto said The Siren definitely appealed to her.
"Something about the piece sort of calls to you," she said. "She's just so comfortable with herself and her form. It's just something very moving for me as a woman. The comfort of her with herself, I thought was great. And she's got a lot to be comfortable with."
Benacquisto encouraged Gitzen to submit his work to the village's public art program. She encouraged other artists to do the same.
She and other village officials are quick to point out that there are 21 other pieces of art work throughout the village. Unfortunately, it's the well endowed who seem to get all of the attention.