SAN LEANDRO (CBS SF) — A five-story high sculpture of naked woman dancing set for its official unveiling in the East Bay this week is continuing to stir controversy and conversation.
Artist Marco Cochrane says the 55-foot sculpture now installed outside the San Leandro BART station is meant as a celebration of the female form, but is not intended to be overtly sexual.
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“Women are sexualized in this culture, said Cochrane. They live in a world where their entire existence is sexualized. And that’s what I’m directly trying to change.”
Cochrane says he hopes his “Truth Is Beauty” sculpture sparks conversations about the mistreatment of women. But so far has largely stirred debate over what constitutes appropriate public art.
The statue was originally commissioned for Burning Man a couple of years ago.
“I really liked it. The artist is obviously talented,” said statue critic Sally Wrye. “But I’m just not sure if it’s appropriate for public display.”
“She’s not doing anything inappropriate in a sexual way,” said San Leandro resident Janet Bryant. “So I think it’s beautiful — true art.”
The city of San Leandro requires contractors to include public art in new developments, but doesn’t approve the specific artwork.
San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter says she understands the public’s concern, but added that true art is rarely without controversy.
“There’s many more things you can look at in the statue than nudity,” said Mayor Cutter. “I think it’s a very powerful message. And then it’s up to you to decide how it fits in with your family norm.”
The developers of the city’s new tech campus said they hope the sculpture will prove not eye-catching but eye-opening.
“It’s a very beautiful image of a woman expressing her power and her confidence and her strength,” explained Westlake Urban Managing Director Gaye Quinn.
The sculpture will be officially unveiled at an invitation only ceremony Tuesday evening.