Take yourself back to November 2015, when a New Jersey blogger “well known for his innovative and transformative ideas as a marketing, social media, and business development consultant” named Matt Sweetwood traveled to Milwaukee to visit his daughter, possibly looked at the sorry state of his blog traffic on the flight over, determined a non-anti-Semitic sculpture in Shorewood’s Atwater Park was anti-Semitic, wrote about it (“Hateful Sculpture in Milwaukee (Shorewood) Wisconsin Needs to be Scrapped,” “How I Discovered Hate in Plain Sight on a Popular Sculpture”), and reveled in the ensuing Internet fame. Yes, Sweetwood caused quite a stir when he found a random jumble of letters in Jaume Plensa’s “Spillover II” that, when looked at sideways and occasionally skipped over or changed altogether, vaguely resembled phrases like “FRY BAD JEW” and “CHEAP JEW.” People freaked out, everyone in town wrote about it (including Milwaukee Record), Sweetwood got a shitload of publicity, representatives of the world-renowned Plensa noted he was “deeply saddened that his sculpture [had] been so egregiously misinterpreted,” Shorewood removed the sculpture anyway, and life went on.
Until now. Roughly two months after Plensa’s piece was removed for “repair” (at the expense of the artist and his gallery), it was reinstalled Saturday evening. So what was changed to make this non-anti-Semitic sculpture even more non-anti-Semitic? Since the Journal Sentinel and OnMilwaukee wrote about the reinstallation but didn’t bother to detail the changes, we did it ourselves. Go figure.
Anyway, here’s our “before” picture of the “offending” section of the sculpture, taken back in November, and highlighted for “clarity”:
And here’s the “after,” taken Sunday:
So yeah, unless we’re missing something, they changed an “E” into a “B.” After all the drama and headlines, after all the people claiming it was statistically impossible for random letters to form these particular words even though it’s extremely possible when you get to decide which letters you use and discard, they changed an “E” into a “B.” So there you go.
We contacted Sweetwood via email about the reinstallation of the sculpture he once condemned as a “piece of scrap,” and this is what he had to say: “I have not seen the modified sculpture. But it’s evident, from the speed at which Jaume Plensa removed and changed the sculpture, the artist recognized that the lettering spelled out an offensive phrase. I am pleased that the residents of Shorewood got their sculpture back so quickly.”
Click here for our original report, here for our discussion on The Disclaimer, here for Sweetwood’s media highlight reel, and here for Sweetwood’s trailer on using “social media to build your brand and business.”