At the end of WWII, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped a now famous photo of a sailor kissing a young nurse in New York’s Times Square. In 2005, when artist J. Seward Johnson was invited to participate in the annual exhibition of large scale sculptures displayed along the Bayfront in Sarasota, Florida, he decided to recreate the photo in a 26-foot high Styrofoam sculpture. The piece, named “Unconditional Surrender” by Seward, was so popular that local residents attempted to keep it in Sarasota permanently, but they were unable to find enough donors to pay for the sculpture. Recently, a new aluminum version returned to Sarasota, where it is scheduled to remain until March 2009. However this time Sarasota Season of Sculpture, the non-profit group that sponsors the event, is determined to keep the sculpture in Sarasota.
To do so, the organization will need to raise $675,000. The hundreds of people who stop every day to see the sculpture and have their photo taken in front of it may have given SSoS the germ of an idea; they are inviting couples to renew their wedding vows at 10 a.m. on Valentine’s Day 2009. Billed as “A Monumental Valentine’s Kiss,” every participating couple will receive a certificate of remarriage and be photographed sharing their own kiss under the sculpture. The $100 tax deductible cost per couple will be used toward the purchase of the monument.
Couples who wish to participate in the event can call Sarasota Season of Sculpture offices at 941-366-7767 or sign up online at the Sarasota Season of Sculpture events page. The sculpture is located at U.S. Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail) and the Ringling Causeway, at the beginning of Sarasota’s Bayshore Park, which offers walking paths, restaurants, boating, fishing and is adjacent to Sarasota’s historic downtown. A number of hotels are located in and around the downtown area, as are numerous entertainment options, including cinemas, theaters, the Sarasota Opera, the Sarasota Symphony, G.Wiz Science Center, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, and the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art.
Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels