New Bedford Residents Are Feuding Over a ‘Seagull with Boobs’

'Seagull Cinderella' is a piece of public art that's receiving mixed reviews.

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Tacky, ugly, and meaningless are just a few of the words that have been used to describe a newly installed statue along New Bedford’s Route 18.

From the imagination of Boston-based artist Donna Dodson, “Seagull Cinderella” is supposed to be art. But resident Ray Concannon thinks the statue is ridiculous—he said as much in an online petition he created called “Remove the Seagull with Boobs Statue in Downtown New Bedford.” As of Friday morning, the petition had more than 350 signatures.

It reads:

“With New Bedford’s rich history, we do not want visitors’ lasting impressions to be of a seagull with boobs. What a waste. It needs to go. Remove it, or replace it with something beautiful.”

The 31-year-old teacher told South Coast Today his children first pointed out the statue to him while he was driving.

“Look at that duck with boobs,” they said.

The full-figured fowl, while not a duck, is part of New Bedford’s Seaport Art Walk, a series of almost 20 public art installations in the city. Dodson writes on her website that the piece celebrates a common sea bird as the American mythic princess, Cinderella.

“Yet she is uncommon, like Marilla in Anne of Green Gables, corseted and bound by the sweet virtues of her character. Her full length gown is alive with neon daisies and flower power!” Dodson explains.

Many of Dodson’s pieces can be compared to the seagull—other works include breasted pandas and tigers. But petitioners have unleashed waves of art criticism, saying the shapely seagull is inappropriate. “I think it’s a ridiculous statue kids are talking about it having boobs I should have to explain that to him there is no reason it has to look like that take it DOWN!!!!!” writes one signer.

Other New Bedfordians are publicly admiring the statue. A Facebook page called #peopleofnewbedbord features comments of support and arguments against the seagull haters. “There is nothing wrong with the seagull!! Its a girl that’s all people have too much time on there hands to be upset with that!!!” reads one comment.

Resident Garrett Rosa even created a competing petition to Concannon’s. “This man is just clearly uncomfortable by the female form and hates the art,” writes Rosa.

Supporters have highlighted its whimsicalness, explaining that art is subjective. Curators of New Bedford’s art walk have said they welcome the dialogue about art in the city.

The busty bird is the second voluptuous sculpture to cause controversy this month, after a mermaid sand sculpture in Yarmouth was dubbed as distasteful.

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