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´╗┐Controversial artwork on Newtown is taken down After calls for removal, architect Jerry Sparkman apologizes for piece at Center for Architecture, Sarasota. In a comment on the Facebook page of Shakira Refos, the architect, Jerry Sparkman, of the firm Sweet Sparkman Architects, apologized for the content of the piece and noted that he had removed it Saturday afternoon. Sparkman and leaders from the University of Florida CityLab Sarasota, who co organized the effort, ultimately opted on Sunday to remove the entire exhibit, which was slated to run until April 28. want to extend my deepest apologies to the Newtown community for the offense and hurt I have caused with the art piece that was displayed this nike high tops week at the Center for Architecture, Sparkman wrote. removed the piece from the exhibit this afternoon. While it was never my intention to insult or wound anybody, particularly Newtown residents, I understand now that intent doesn matter; only impact does. piece featured a body with the letters at the top and a baseball cap with the word on it. Next, there were cigars around the mouth area and two speakers. Toward the bottom were plastic bags full of white powder, and the piece finished with blue Nike sneakers. neighborhood along Martin Luther King Boulevard, known as Newtown, has historically been a place for drug deals, prostitution, and crime, reads a caption from the exhibit explaining the piece entitled Face of MLK. new projects for Ringling College of Art and Design are currently under construction. . The door collage seeks to use symbolic materials from each project (audio speakers, glass shards and books) in contrast with found objects from the neighborhood to suggest that the neighborhood is changing its complexion. seeing the piece, Ruth Beltran posted on Facebook on April 21 in a message that has since garnered more than 120 shares: is how the black community is depicted, not as human beings, but as prostitutes and drug dealers. All to promote the stealing of and gentrification of the black community, Beltran wrote. people in Newtown will be waiting the immediate removal of this piece of nike z samotraki opis garbage and a very public apology. asked why he placed drug imagery in the piece, Sparkman said it was due in part to some of his personal experiences in Newtown. been up and down MLK and frequently been in situations where people have offered drugs to me, Sparkman said. He added that the drug paraphernalia was meant to represent the area stereotypes and that he wanted to portray how architecture and the buildings going up along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way had improved the community. have to see the whole exhibit to understand how it was intended and to convey that architecture can improve communities, not hurt communities, Sparkman said. when you isolate images and words, your perception can be disconnected with the whole purpose. Lives Matter Manasota later issued an official statement calling for the removal of the piece, calling it a stigmatization of Newtown. The organization noted the historical context of the Rosemary District, which began as the city first historic black neighborhood of Overtown but has since been largely lost to development and gentrification. a statement that indicts and stigmatizes c-walk shoes nike an entire community using only its worst examples is cowardice, the statement reads. work is more than disrespectful, it is blatantly racist. exhibit initially ran for about eight months at the 2016 Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy, and returned from that in November before opening at the Center for Architecture on March 21, according to CityLab Sarasota director, Martin Gold. It wasn until a panel held last week that backlash to Sparkman piece became apparent. Gold said he was surprised by the reaction to the piece, which he said was meant to reflect the positive changes that have been made in the community. piece is really about trying to celebrate the progress that being made in Newtown, Gold said. recognize that it an important community, and their lineage of struggle and progress forward were the ideas behind the piece. Sparkman Architects is a well known architectural firm based in Sarasota that has been commissioned for high profile projects such as the county Venice Public Library and the county new fire stations. Vickie Oldham, the city lead consultant for the Newtown Conservation Historic District, said she first learned of it when she attended the panel Tuesday evening. She expressed her concerns that night during a question and answer portion. just wish somebody would have gotten some input from somebody in the community who is sensitive to these issues, Oldham said. I confident that this will lead to discussion and a positive outcome. Monday night, Black Lives Matter Manasota monthly meeting became an opportunity for community members and Sparkman to interact in a forum environment. The architect explained his inspiration behind the piece, and community members asked pointed questions about his thought process. Longtime Newtown resident Jetson Grimes, who met Sparkman early in his career in Sarasota, noted that the piece may not have been meant to offend, but it reinforced unfair stereotypes about the area. white people miss the boat, Grimes said. fed the narrative of Newtown being crime ridden. We have to change the narrative of this community. /wrapper >