FM committee votes to keep controversial statue downtown

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Fort Myers Art Committee unanimously voted Monday evening to keep a┬ácontroversial statue in downtown Fort Myers.

The statue named Territorio, by internationally known Colombian artist Edguardo Carmona, is a depiction of a man and his dog urinating on a lamppost. The sculpture has been on display for less than a week and has been causing controversy with some passersby who think it’s inappropriate for public. Hundreds of people have been drawn downtown to see the sculpture for themselves.

“I think it’s debauchery to be frank with you. It promotes drunkenness, it promotes stupidity,” said a critic. “I think it’s pretty obnoxious for people’s grandchildren to be looking at.”

Negative comments forced the the committee to hold an emergency meeting to decide if they should take it down.

“It’s up to your interpretation as to what you see in that piece,” said Chris Spiro, the spokesman for the Allure Luxury Condominiums. “Those that want to find something dirty with it will find something dirty with it and shame on them in my opinion.”

At Monday’s meeting, half a dozen Fort Myers residents spoke in favor of keeping the statue right where it is and questioned what kind of message it would send if the city censored art. No one who opposed the art showed up to the meeting.

“As a resident of Lee County and someone who comes to downtown Fort Myers frequently, I’m far more offended that I have to walk past the Robert E. Lee statue than I would be of this,” said Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) art student Rachel Bass.

“I don’t want to worry that I’m living in a small pond and that I need to leave here to be able to be a practicing artist,” said FGCU art student Leila Mesdaghi. “Same as other little children when they pass by, when they look at something they want to be inspired that they can be creative and they should not censor themselves.”

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for the community to come together,” said Jim Brock. “See some new work, things that are about ordinary every day people doing ordinary everyday things.”

The 24-piece, public art exhibit will be on display until March.