‘Unconditional Surrender’ Statue Has Conditions: Port

Two San Diego Bay artworks are drawing objections as the veterans park's future looms.

Patrick Shipley

Midway Museum is a magnet for tourists, but it's also a bulky blocker of views of San Diego Bay.

Museum operators want to include highrise sculptures that are drawing objections in a veterans park they're required to build on the pier. Plans for the park include 400- and 500-foot titanium sculptures nearby, called "Wings of Freedom." Opponents say they should be non-starters in the approval process.

"I think the wings will kill the project completely," said Ian Trowbridge of the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition. "And it detracts from the Midway. The Midway is an icon in its own right. It doesn't need to be taken away from, by having a piece of art that people -- many people -- don't like."

Meantime, there's some distaste for the neighboring "Unconditional Surrender," a 25-foot foam and urethane rendering of a historic kiss.

The statue's time on loan to San Diego is nearly over. A leading architect hopes to raise a million dollars to cast it in bronze, maintain its paint job and keep it here.

"It's a snapshot at the end of World War 2," said architect Donald Reeves. "That's all it is. It's not ... some image of something that a sculptor thought out."

Art critics say it's "kitschy" and "tacky." Tourists seem taken with its romanticism. Couples like to mimic its pose.

"I love the colors, I love the form, " said Johanna Salomon Otero of Buenos Aires, Argentina. "I know it's a very famous photo. And sitting here, it's like 'Oh my gosh, it's real!'"

Said Lindsay Brinkman of Bloomington, Minn.: "I can see where some people would say, 'Oh yeah, that's tacky.'  Because it's not a bronze or a metal.  But why can't tacky be good? Why can't tacky be okay?"

There are much bigger projects, also with aesthetic issues, looming over the bayfront, including a half-billion-dollar expansion of the Convention Center and the billion-dollars-plus Navy Broadway/Pacific Gateway complex.

The goal is to generate revenues of many times those amounts.

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