UPDATE: As reported by FOX 6 News, the Jaume Plensa sculpture "Spillover II," located in Atwater Park in Shorewood, has been temporarily removed due to a recent claim that the piece contains anti-Semitic phrases. According to the report, the removal is temporary, as the sculpture will be put back on display after alterations are made.
The sculpture was already gone from its Atwater Park location by Saturday morning.Â
A man's visit to Milwaukee took a sour turn recently when he claims he discovered offensive messages hidden in a sculpture in Shorewood.
Matt Sweetwood â€“ an author, speaker and photography expert â€“ posted on Sunday, Nov. 8 about an unfortunate experience he had during a visit to his oldest daughter. During the visit, his son-in-law took him to Atwater Park and "Spillover II," a piece of public art by internationally known Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. The sculpture went up in the park in 2010.Â
After looking at the statue â€“ an assortment of letters forming the outline of a crouched man â€“ for several moments, Sweetwood noticed several messages spelled out in the man's left leg area.Â
Do you see them?
According to Sweetwood, the three phrases, "CHEAP JEW," "FRY BAD JEW" and "DEAD JEW" are all up there.Â
The phrases marked (PHOTO: Matt Sweetwood/Ed Dvir)
"I snapped a few photos and walked away disgusted," Sweetwood wrote in his blog post. "My son-in-law was visibly upset as he had shown this sculptureÂ proudly to visitors in the past. As a Jew from New Jersey, I prefer this kind of hate said directly to me. But this artist is a coward, so he sculpts his hate and runs away. I also found it ironic that such anti-Semitic remarks would exist on a sculpture a few miles from the childhood home ofÂ Golda Meir."
At the end of the post, Sweetwood calls on Shorewood to immediately remove the sculpture, noting that it "is not art. Itâ€™s a piece of scrap."
So are his claims valid? After looking at the photos and the statue itself, the words "FRY" and "JEW" can be seen spelled out. The rest of the claims, however, require some liberties. "CHEAP," for instance, is spelled mostly out, but there's no actual P; you have to combine a nearby N and D to loosely form the letter. "DEAD" can be found, but in a roundabout way, and the "BAD" Sweetwood points out on his blog also technically has a Z in the middle of it, actually spelling BZAD. One could argue that is a whole lot of convenience located in one seemingly random jumble of letters, but there are a lot of leaps required to make the claims truly stick.Â
Paul Gray, owner of the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago, and MaryÂ Sabbatino, vice president and partner at the Galerie Lelong in New York â€“ both listed as contacts on Plensa's official website â€“ sent the following statement:
"Jaume Plensa has dedicated his career to creating work that brings people from all cultures together through artwork that asserts our similarities are more important and powerful than our differences. Plensa uses alphabets as conceptual metaphors for cultures; the letters from each alphabet are utilized to create a skin of an anonymous figure with each letterâ€™s placement entirely at random. Plensa is deeply saddened that his sculpture has been so egregiously misinterpreted. Plensaâ€™s works and beliefs are the antithesis of anti-Semitism."
Plensa's previous works include the Crown Fountain inÂ Chicago'sÂ Millennium Park and a sculpture of a listeningÂ glass, entitled "Breathing," created and dedicated as a memorial to journalists killed in the line of duty currently located in London.Â Plensa has created several similar letter sculptures that can be found across the globe.Â
Most pertinent to this case, however, are Plensa's artist statements, which note that the organization of the letters is not meant to spell words and has no significance. There's also a profile with Houston Culture Map in which the artist notes that the groupings serve as a "denouncement of the murmur of useless words that invade our time."
Plensa also previously submitted a design for a Holocaust memorial displayed outside of the Ohio Statehouse. His design wasn't selected, but finished as in the top three as a runner-up.Â Â
I'd hate to play boggle with Mr. Sweetwood. There's no telling what he would find.
2 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published May 20, 2019
After eight years, eight seasons, a whole lot of traumatic deaths, a decreasing amount of dragons and what we can all agree was probably too few episodes for all the story that needed to be told, "Game of Thrones" came to its epic conclusion Sunday night.
Published May 19, 2019
Keeping up with Giannis and company in the NBA playoffs on your small screens at home? Here's where you can find the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors on TV - even if you've cut the cord.
Published May 18, 2019
The Bucks squeaked out a victory on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum, surviving a meek shooting performance to score the first win of their series with the Toronto Raptors. Friday night, however, the Bucks left no doubt. Let's take a look.
Published May 17, 2019
Before Amazon, shopping malls were the place where you could find just about anything. In Southridge Mall's case, that's still the case - with a twist, as among the usual department stores and retail shops, you can also find a full craft brewery.
Published May 17, 2019
Back in 2013, the Bucks took a risk on a thin, untested and raw babyfaced teenager. He was the definition of a question mark, but just a few years later, that question mark has proven to be an exclamation point. Here are 34 reasons why we geek out over the Greek Freak.
Published May 17, 2019
With the Bucks tearing their way through the NBA, both in the regular season and playoffs, all eyes are on Fiserv Forum. Here's a guide to all the shiny new spots that should have everyone in Milwaukee and beyond herding over to Deer District.
Published May 16, 2019
Let's marinate in the Bucks' hard-earned victory last night just a little bit longer by gazing at these 11 images from inside and outside Fiserv Forum during the Bucks' Game 1 win. Yes, the Brook Lopez clap made the cut.
Published May 15, 2019
The Milwaukee Bucks' run to the NBA Finals continues into the Eastern Conference Finals tonight with Game 1 of the team's seven-game series against the Toronto Raptors. But the fun and games don't need to be restricted to just the basketball court.
Published May 15, 2019
Why yes, that is Prince Fielder in the buff, posing for a photo very reminiscent of his iconic ESPN Body Issue shoot from 2014, and somehow the beefy former Milwaukee Brewer looks even beefier - quite literally.
Published May 14, 2019
Here's something to help get through finals week, UWM students: Pop star Kesha will headline Pantherfest, the school's annual celebration of the start of the academic year, at the BMO Harris Pavilion on Friday, Sept. 6.