Metro

New friend joins New Bedford ‘seagull’ sculpture

Kerrie Burrer/City of New Bedford

For a brief moment Friday, the controversial seagull sculpture placed by the seaside in New Bedford last month had a new flippered friend.

According to The Standard-Times, a blue, whale-like sculpture suddenly appeared next to artist Donna Dodson’s “Seagull Cinderella,” which had earned the nickname the “seagull statue with boobs” for its prominent female figure, and garnered national attention because of the flap it ignited in July amongst residents.

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The new addition looked to be made from trash barrels and a recycling bin, with a skirt similar to the one worn by Dodson’s sculpture and a white smile painted across its face. The blue figure also had a tail made of duct tape, and, like Dodson’s figure, appeared to have breasts — but they could have been flippers.

An employee who answered the phone at New Bedford Mayor Jon F. Mitchell’s office did not immediately have information about the figure, but said she would look into it.

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Dodson said in a telephone interview that she didn’t know who was behind the “blue whale-mermaid,” but wasn’t upset. She welcomed the creativity.

Dodson said she believes someone put it there to be funny, or give her own sculpture a friend. The 9-foot-tall “Seagull Cinderella” had become wildly popular, leading to feuds between residents and a petition to have it removed.

“I think because it got so much attention, maybe someone just wanted to get attention, too,” Dodson said. “Maybe they just thought they would add to the story.”

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Dodson said the sculpture could have been a hammerhead shark, a whale, or maybe Poseidon.

“It’s just goofy, more than anything,” she said, laughing. “For me, having public art up, your worst nightmare is to have it vandalized. But this stuff is fun.”

“It’s like people are participating,” she added. “They want to be part of it.”

The smiling blue whale only stayed up for a short time, according to Jessica Bregoli, who curated the second annual New Bedford Seaport Artwalk, an installation of roughly 13 artworks that included Dodson’s piece.

“I just took it down, and I brought it to Gallery X,” said Bregoli. “It’s open for the artist to come and claim their work.”

A whale of a tale, indeed.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.
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