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Kiss Statue Taken Down, Replacement Scheduled By End Of Year

Aired 5/31/12 on KPBS News.

Workers today began removing the statue of a sailor kissing a nurse near the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum on San Diego's downtown waterfront.

The heads were the first to come off.

The severed bust of the sailor kissing a nurse weighs 1500 lbs and was removed by a 70-ton crane from the body of "Unconditional Surrender," the popular 25ft statue located next to the USS Midway on San Diego's downtown waterfront.

The lip-locked heads were placed gently in front of a crowd of photographers, tourists and onlookers.

"Unconditional Surrender" has been on loan to the Port of San Diego for six years (the loan was extended numerous times). The statue drew tourists and couples who often mimicked the statue's embrace for photos.

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Above: The "Kissing Statue" with the head removed.

Bernie Oberoski works for artist Seward Johnson's studio in New Jersey, where the statue will go to be refurbished. He is overseeing "Unconditional Surrender's" removal, which he says isn't that hard since the statue is in five large pieces. "Imagine a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. It's almost like a layer cake; it will be stacked. You have your head section, a mid-section, which weighs as much as a car, and then the legs in two parts." A shoulder and arm were also removed separately.

The oversized body parts will will be placed on two flatbed trucks. For the long drive, the legs, arms, and kissing heads will sit exposed on the back of those trucks without a tarp. "The truck drivers love to carry this piece without a tarp because it draws such a crowd," says Oberoski. "It's like on a parade across the country."

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Above: The "Kissing State" is dismantled.

"Unconditional Surrender" is part of artist Seward Johnson's "Icon" series, which also includes a statue of Marilyn Monroe currently in Palm Springs.

"Unconditional Surrender" is based on a famous 1945 Life magazine photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in New York's Times Square when the end of World War II was announced.

The popular statue has not been without its critics. But San Diegans and tourists will barely have time to lament - or rejoice in - the statue's departure.

A new permanent "Unconditional Surrender" will go up before the end of the year.

It will be made out of bronze and painted to look exactly like the departing sculpture. The new version will also be made by Seward Johnson.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Midway museum officials announced that an eight-week fundraising campaign raised $998,000, enough to pay for the replacement, which was cast in China in September before any money was raised.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | May 30, 2012 at 3:39 p.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

So 7 rich people and the Midway Museum get to decide what is considered public art? Not to mention the million dollar replacement sculpture is made in China? How truly....American.

I'm shaking my head right now.

May it be covered in the excrement of a million pigeons.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 30, 2012 at 6:21 p.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

A sculpture made in China of an event that took place in New York City, and the nit-wits at the Midway "Museum" have declared this an essential work because it "represents San Diego".

I'm hoping birds will do their business all over this disgusting waste of money in protest, but even San Diego's birds are smart enough to realize this 'piece' isn't worth crapping on.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 30, 2012 at 7:09 p.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

And while we are on a militaria related article, can someone who is military please explain to me why Mr. Willard Romney is polling 60% amongst military, far above President Obama?

I'm perplexed.

Mr. Romney dodged the Vietnam War by taking an academic waiver to live in France.

I mean war dodging in **FRANCE** for Pete's sake, isn't that like equal to selling your soul to the devil amongst Republicans?

Contrast this with our President who made the call to get Bin Laden. *(note President Obama did not serve in Vietnam because he was underage).*

I would think the military would be an obvious overwhelming block of support for Obama, but this is not he case, Why?????????

Willard Romney not only escaped serving his country in favor of living in France, he is now hawkish eyeing a new West Asian front in Iran.

Do our military folks *really* want immersion into another foreign war??

In fact, Romney's military approval is even higher than McCain's was when he was running for President, and McCain was a POW!!!!!!

I just don't understand.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | May 31, 2012 at 3:17 p.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

Come on Duck. Why does everything have to turn into an anti-Romney rant with you?

Why can't we all just enjoy the nonpartisan universal scorn that everyone has for the monstrosity kiss statue, better known as the million dollar bird lavatory?

My question is, will the new statue have a "Made in China" stamp under the girl's skirt?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 1, 2012 at 1:04 p.m. ― 4 years, 8 months ago

The ironic thing is this statue's supporters are telling us it represents San Diego and our heavily military presence.

But isn't the reason San Diego is expanding as a Navy hub is because of potential conflict arising in East Asia - i.e. North Korea and China and our strategic location on the Pacific Rim?

So we celebrate this by buying a statue made in Red China?


I wonder how many of those who gave money knew this was going to be a Chinese manufactured item.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | January 9, 2013 at 1:51 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

How many statues of the kiss has he sold already?

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