No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

Palm Coast Mayor Hails ‘Striking’ 10-Ft. Sculpture as Inaugural Symbol of Town Center’s Creative Future

| March 26, 2019

"Burro With Bird on Shoulder"

‘Burro With Bird on Shoulder,’ a bronze sculpture by artist Copper Tritscheller, was dedicated today in a ceremony at Palm Coast’s Central Park, the first of five sculptures that will form a sculpture garden there. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The 10-foot length of “Burro With Bird on Shoulder” was wrapped in whitish fabric before Copper Tritscheller’s bronze sculpture’s unveiling in a Central Park ceremony this morning, as if against the chill. The veil looked like it was hiding a very tall, very thin person on a deceptively simple pedestal that looked like a cube of concrete. Deceptive, because that pedestal is actually 3,600 pounds of concrete drilled down 2 feet deep, a foundation designed to let “Burro” withstand 200 mph winds: “Burro”‘s innocence and seeming fragility are deceptive, too: it’s not for nothing that Bird is seeking him out  for refuge.

A little after 9 this morning, at Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland’s signal, the five City Council members joined artists Harry Messersmith and Tritscheller and unveiled “Burro,” the inaugural sculpture that is to be the first of five big works that will form a sculpture garden in Central Park, realizing a dream of artist Tom Gargiulo and Arlene Volpe and their Gargiulo Art Foundation–a dream for art in public places fermenting for a decade, with many other sculptures and art works already on display elsewhere around town. Gargiulo is contributing $100,000 of his own to the foundation’s plan for the sculpture garden, and hoping to raise an equal amount from donors: the city is not on the hook for any of the money. ‘Burro’ in particular is dedicated to the memory of the late Richard Schreiner and his wife Arlene.

“Art in public places is so very relevant for us all,” Holland told the crowd of artists, donors, council members, staffers and others gathered at the unveiling site, with City Hall as a nearby backdrop. “It is treasured because it identifies our community as a place that values culture. Community art ties us together in a simple, uncomplicated way. It makes us happy and it makes us think. It gives us an opportunity to communicate and to engage in a larger conversation.”

Mayor Milissa Holland with artists Harry Messersmith and Copper Tritscheller before the unveiling. (© FlaglerLive)

Mayor Milissa Holland with artists Harry Messersmith and Copper Tritscheller before the unveiling. (© FlaglerLive)

It can also make us perplexed, mocking, even angry, as some–just some–of the early reviews of “Burro” went, judging from reactions on this site when the sculpture was first revealed in an article two weeks ago. One commenter called it a “demonic goat.” “A joke,” “hideous” and “satanic” were among other less welcoming reactions–all par for public art’s course likely since, for all their magnificence, this horse or that bull in Lascaux’s caves struck at least a couple of Stone Age commenters the wrong way.

“It’s the same old thing,” Gargiulo said. “Art is unique. It’s different. It’s not familiar. So whenever you have something that is not the status quo, people are going to have a lot of questions about it. A [perfect example would be how Vincent Van Gogh’s work was not liked. The impressionists’ works, and today people have them hanging in their homes. ‘Nude Descending a Staircase‘ started a riot in [1913], and today people like it, maybe not all people. There’s still some people that are upset with it.”

A detail from 'Burro With Bird.' (© FlaglerLive)

A detail from ‘Burro With Bird.’ (© FlaglerLive)

Duschamp was famous for his shocking works, one of them a urinal he called “Fountain.” Critics and philistines loved to bash him. The New York Times called Duschamp’s painting “an explosion in a shingle factory.” Teddy Roosevelt derided it as inferior to a Navajo run in his bathroom, which he decided to call “A well-dressed man going up a ladder.”

That’s what art does at first “because it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s different,” Gargiulo said. “And then it grows on people. I think ‘Burro With Bird’ will grow on people.” 

The sculpture, oriented to face City Hall but positioned at the center of a circular path that allows looking from every angle, near and far, is one of many burro works by Copper Tritscheller, the New Smyrna Beach artist who’s also done a lot of work with bats (the flying kind, not the baseball kind). 

“I kind of like the idea of the burro walking,”  Tritscheller said. “It’s probably even like a Walt Disney leftover childhood fairy tale where animals walked and talked with you, but it was also to celebrate how we’re alike rather than to see the differences. For me when people see something they relate to, they’re more open to understanding it.” She tries to make bats less frightful for the same reason. “We sometimes can be apprehensive of things we don’t understand, so if you and I look alike, if we’re walking, then, OK, you’re a little bit more familiar.” So she thought of giving animals a few human characters to entice the eye, give the work a second look.

Tom Gargiulo, the council and 'Burro.' Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Tom Gargiulo, the council and ‘Burro.’ Click on the image for larger view.
(© FlaglerLive)

She refers to “Burro” in the masculine, though that’s up to the viewer. There are no anatomical suggestions to frighten parents with their young children. “Some people think it’s more feminine,” the artist says. “I think I just use ‘him’ mainly because I had a horse, Christopher, and I think Christopher kind of is a little bit of my muse in everything that is donkyish, because he was a little bit of an ass.”

Artists are not always the best source of explanation for their own work. Other artists, other eyes, are better suited to that end–an end with no end, since an art work may be interpreted and commented more copiously than the Talmud. This morning, two artists gave “Burro” two vastly different interpretations–one earthy, the other aesthetic. Messersmith, three of whose sculptures will soon join “Burro” in Central Park, gave the morning assembly his creation story of Tritscheller ‘s Burro and Bird. 

“They’re our friends,” Messersmith said. “It occurred to me that the bird lives in our air space, and came down to earth to invite burro to come to the sky. The burro lives on the ground and its feet remain firmly planted here. So the bird invited the burro, maybe stretch up and stand up and join me in the sky. Well, burro said, I can’t do that, but I can provide a perch for you. So they’re friends, they’re our friends, and they share this beautiful environment for us. And that’s ‘Burro With Bird On Its Shoulder.’” (Gargiulo, Holland and Tritscheller all credited Messersmith for being the force that breathed life in Gargiulo’s vision.) 

JJ Graham wondered why this urinal, in the public bathroom at Central Park but here posing as a Marcel Duschamp imitation, does not get trolls' attention as much as 'Burro' has. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

JJ Graham wondered why this urinal, in the public bathroom at Central Park but here posing as a Marcel Duschamp imitation, does not get trolls’ attention as much as ‘Burro’ has. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Messersmith described the sculpture to the whole crowd. Artist JJ Graham, who owns Salvo Art House in Bunnell and breaks boundaries in speech as much as in art, described the sculpture after the ceremony, to a reporter. “I love it man,” he said. “The only thing I can compare it to is like maybe reading Lewis Carroll, you know it’s got that magical animal come to life, and who would think that someone could make a burro look that elegant? If you look at the negative shape and the line quality and how elegant that is, the head of the bird, it’s like there’s a sense of unity of life there. I loved what Harry said about earth and sky and how grounded that Burro feels. It’s a gorgeous piece. And I need to go online because if people are complaining about this, they should go down and protest the big red rooster in front of the Chicken Pantry. That’s a public piece of art. You don;t see trolls coming out and freakin–it’s ridiculous, man. This is gorgeous. I want to go on and say hey, how come you guys aren’t making a big deal about the big red rooster where I have breakfast, assholes? You know? This is like–kids are going to love this, they’re going to make up stories about it. I would have loved to walk through a park as a kid and go wow, what is that?” He dismissed the few naysayers “feeding off this negativity.” He said no one complains of the urinals in the public bathroom nearby–a wry reference to the Duschamp look-alikes.

“My fear is that they’re going to spoil it for the sculptures that are coming,” Graham said.

To Holland though, “Burro” is just the beginning. She said it would “soon be the talk of Town Center,” showcasing the area as Palm Coast’s new Innovation District and symbolizing the creativity the council is hoping to foster there, with culture flavoring the future: “This is our vision for Town center,” Holland said, “a mix of high-tech companies, housing, the park, the arts, coffee shops, entrepreneurs and retail in a walkable neighborhood. It is accessible and has the infrastructure to support collaboration and innovation.”

The Town Center Sculpture Garden at Central Park is part of the city’s and the Gargiulo Art Foundation’s Art in Public Places initiative. The non-profit foundation is seeking donors to join the effort. For information, call the foundation at 386/466-0617.

After today's ceremony all the artists headed to the Chicken Pantry in Bunnell, then posed for this shot by the red rooster, another kind of public art. (© JJ Graham for FlaglerLive)

After today’s ceremony all the artists headed to the Chicken Pantry in Bunnell, then posed for this shot by the red rooster, another kind of public art. Click on the image for larger view.
(© JJ Graham for FlaglerLive)

34 Responses for “Palm Coast Mayor Hails ‘Striking’ 10-Ft. Sculpture as Inaugural Symbol of Town Center’s Creative Future”

  1. joseph Pulitzer says:


  2. snapperhead says:

    It’s very appropriate for it’s location. No better place to have a statue of a jackass than in front of city hall.

  3. Charlie says:

    I’ve seen some other sculpture’s that look like this sculpture on TV documentary on Satan Worshippers !

  4. Joe says:

    It’s still creepy looking!

  5. Debbie says:

    Unbelievable, there are much better ways to donate your money, such as schools and teachers pay. Not to mention aid for those unable to afford medical services in the beautiful state of Florida. Schools suffering and low income people suffering and ridiculous amounts of money spent on statues in the park.SMH

  6. JJ Graham says:


    (A Bedtime Story inspired By Copper’s Burro and Bird) written by JJ Graham with some equally inspired drawings by Salvo Art Kids

    Once upon a time there was a Burro with a very important task. Her name was Gertrude and she had been given the task to carry this white robed gentleman into to this city. She didn’t know his name but it was obviously a very important task, and she’d overheard these 12 guys talking, they were saying that supposedly this man would one day bring hope and an opportunity for salvation to a lot of underdeveloped misguided hateful folks and make the world a better place. Gertrude felt a sense of humble pride. It was as if she’d been chosen. So she set about her task with as much grace and determination as she could muster. She made sure to not falter… to find her footing … to fulfill her purpose.

    Little did she know but there was a great creative being, a divine artist (so to speak), that some (like the kind man on her back) referred to as “Heavenly Father,” looking down from his celestial perch. So pleased was this Heavenly Father with Gertrude, that one night when all was quiet, he sent down a flaming chariot and ushered a slightly startled Gertrude into the heavens.

    So happy with Gertrude was Heavenly Father, that he decreed that she would never again carry anything on her back and would henceforth walk upright in grace and ease.

    Gertrude would soon come to know that she wasn’t the only creature that’d earned Heavenly Father’s favor. Her best friend became a bird named Phillip who had one time delivered an olive branch of sorts to these despairing folks on a big boat and also found favor with Heavenly Father.

    Gertrude and Phillip became the very best of friends. So beautiful was their friendship that Heavenly Father’s celestial heart filled with joy, so much so that one day he decided to place a divine creative spark in the very kind heart of an Artist named Copper.

    Copper would take this spark and become inspired to create a wonderful work of art that would be symbolic of Heavenly Father’s affection for the friendship between Gertrude and Phillip and it would be anchored to our Mother Earth. Heavenly Father hoped that it would inspire mankind to become friendlier and more affectionate.

    But to his dismay some people (not all) where very nasty and didn’t quite have the heart to comprehend it at all. They had forgotten what it had been like to be a child. They had lost the magical imagination they had once been blessed with as children and became angry and bitter. They said very hateful and hurtful things and thought they were being funny. It reminded Heavenly Father of some of the mean harsh things that were said about the love he’d sent down to at one time burden Gertrude’s back. And his celestial heart was filled with shame.

    As he stared down some of his faith began to be restored. The Children along with some of the adults who could still remember being children loved it and were actually inspired by its gentle message. This at least gave Heavenly Father hope. As far as the others were concerned Heavenly Father sighed and understood. Fortunately lovers were going to love, and haters sadly, they were just going to hate. And he smiled a heavenly smile to himself, for he also realized that creators like Copper and himself, well they would always create.

  7. FlaglerLive says:

    The reaction has been especially strong on Facebook:

  8. Gail McDonough says:

    Disturbing and creepy. I like to walk around that peaceful park.
    Hope Flagler doesn’t get “treated” to anything like that.

  9. Richard says:

    Are you kidding me? This will be the laughing stock of Palm Coast. A jackass in Central Park near City Hall, ROTFLMFAO. Personally I think it’s racist! There are many other animals that are more relative to this area than a jackass. This piece would work well in Nevada where they run wild. Although the disclaimer is that I am not into art of any kind.

  10. Agkistrodon says:

    Is it intended to appear Neither female or male?……………just saying.

  11. Derrick Redder says:

    So much of A life like symbol for such an Ass.

  12. Bronxite says:

    Mixed feelings, sculpture is pretty, but it’s ugly too. It’s pretty ugly.
    This sort of emperor’s new clothes art would be more at home at 26 federal plaza in Manhattan.
    The town center could have been a gem; similar to Las Olas Blvd in Lauderdale or DeLand downtown.
    With low income ( so called affordable housing) & the unavoidable widening of the main Street t o accommodate future growth, it will fall short of expectations. NOT NICE.

  13. thomas conrad says:

    I hope the taxpayers didn’t pay for this ugliness.

  14. Dave says:

    The slender feminine tall burro symbolizes proud female Mexican immigrant women. The bird symbolizes both thier hope and America, what a beautiful piece.

  15. Vinny says:

    Why not a BIG GREEN KERMIT THE FROG wearing scuba gear ?

  16. Jolene Dehart says:

    OMG the thing is off the chain. Not pleasant to look at and I see no way that represents anything at all about flagler county. We have maybe ONE token burro in the county and honestly that sculpture doesn’t even look like a burrow.

  17. Art Fan says:

    Art is art. You don’t have to love this particular piece to appreciate that we have local artists creating something for a public space.

  18. mark101 says:

    Again our city waste money. Remember the homeless in the city or the the drainage on the streets. I just went to the store, the water is standing in the streets from this little bit of rain we had so far. To the city, fix the infrastructure before you waste money on these “artsy things. There is time for that later.

  19. JJ Graham says:

    A limp and a speech impediment folks, that’s what ya get for donkey hating in the Bible.

  20. CAROL PAULTON says:

    I love the idea of a sculpture garden. People see what they want to see and I’m sorry to see so many people are seeing something satanic. I think it’s beautiful. Odd but certainly not threatening. If good art makes people think and discuss this sculpture is a huge success.

  21. timothy Lanning says:

    How ironic in a town full of jackasses that our first “art statue” is a donkey.

  22. Concerned Citizen says:

    To our Mayor and City Council,

    But what are you doing about the homeless situation?

  23. Callthemasiseethem says:

    Who the heck picked this out for our public park? It is disturbing.

  24. Heidi shipley says:

    Somebody has donated a work of art to our community. It may look strange it may look funny but to some it’s a beautiful piece. The gesture of donating to the collection is even nicer. I say “ thank you”
    Maybe other artists that feel they can do better can come forward.

  25. Weldon Ryan says:

    I applaud Tom an Arlene of the Guargiulo Art Foundation for taking the bull by the horn and bringing recognition to the arts! We’re in a town/city that has nothing to offer except a couple of malls and a big water tank. Get real people and at least appreciate the dialog that this work of art has introduced. It may not be your cup of tea but certainly it has spurred dialog. That’s what art should do! Provoke and/or stimulate people. What strikes me as odd is that as our city hall has been built not a penny has gone into the arts as mandated by law. This city hall cost a good 10 million but yet not a piece of art had been commissioned to anoint city hall. I for one am thankful to the Gargiulo Art Foundation for coming up with the private donations to make way for an area of art appreciation. Not to mention the hard work and creativity of the artists. My only complaint is that we need more inclusiveness in the process but the bottom line is getting the job done in regard to art in public places about Palm Coast enhancing and enriching our lives with creativity and possibilities.

  26. Outsider says:

    Can anyone read? It cost the city nothing. As a left-brained kind of guy I’ve never been an “artsy” type of person, so I will refrain from voicing any interpretation I might have. However, I would like to say “thank you” to the artist for generously donating his time and effort to the city in an attempt to make Palm Coast a better place. I don’t quite understand why he would deserve the same type of derision we usually give to the meth heads and criminals that normally occupy the front page. He may as well get used to it however; no doubt some acronym-labeled advocacy group will soon be attacking him for assigning gender to an “obviously” gender-neutral piece!

  27. JJ Graham says:

    People are acting like it’s a welcoming greeter/ mascot it’s not. It’s quiet unassuming and meditative. Also we have a bit of an animal theme going with the Panther and the Sea Turtles. A gentle feminine Burro with a bird shouldn’t cause such a troll ruckus. If all the asses in this town were quiet and meditative we have a bit more harmony.

  28. Robjr says:

    Let’s see how many of these detractors can pull 100 grand out of their pockets and slap it on the table as a donation.

  29. Lily M says:

    That thing is going to come alive at night and steal children…mark my words lol.

  30. Sgt. Buford Stanley says:

    A Giant 10ft Sea Turtle with a Potato on its back would have been a better Art sculptor .


    This was a decision made for public lands by a very small elitist group. Most of the comments here by artists appear to be dismissive of the general publics opinion. Basically they are saying that you peasants do not understand art. But I can guarantee you the one thing that will not be dismissive will be the ballot box in 2020.

  32. Concerned Citizen says:

    I have to agree with CALLTHEMASISEETHEM

    The public did not seem to have any say so on what was happening with public land. I don’t seem to recall any public discussions opened by our esteemed mayor and City Council. This just kind of happened as many things do in this County with no regard to the voters.

    @ JJ Graham

    I’m not an abstract art fan but was willing to give it a chance. However that died rapidly when you referred to those of us who don’t like it as “assholes” That really showed a lot of disrespect. Not that you care.

    If you’re so worked up over the big red rooster at Chicken Pantry then file a complaint with city code enforcement. Maybe we can do the same with the ridiculous Burro.

    Please remember how our City Council and Mayor only represent small elitist groups and special interests at the next election.

  33. Dave says:

    People fear what they dont understand and this is the perfect example. I am seeing so many people with self insecurities in these comments. You do not need to feel dumb or uncultured just because you do not understand the art. And no one is thinking that, only yourselves.

  34. JJ Graham says:

    @concerned citizen asshole is a broad statement, if you took it personally it’s a bit absurd because you’re using a pseudonym. My comment was referring to certain individuals that called it Satanic and I’m doubling down on that. There are plenty of people in this community who appreciate abstract art (although the sculpture is not abstract in execution.) Maybe we shouldn’t have a Jazz festival because not everyone likes Jazz. My point being concerned one that everything does not have to be for you and those who share your opinion. There will be other sculptures, some of them may not be my cup of tea, but I will assume that they are someone else’s and not attack them, acknowledging that I live in a diverse community and understanding the importance of tolerance. Bravery is something that is appreciated in the field of creativity, when I believe in something I don’t feel the need to cloak myself in a pseudonym. I do realize that that makes me a target. Fire away whoever you are.

Leave a Reply

FlaglerLive's forum, as noted in our comment policy, is for debate and conversation that adds light and perspective to articles. Please be courteous, don't attack fellow-commenters or make personal attacks against individuals in stories, and try to stick to the subject. All comments are moderated.

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive

FlaglerLive Email Alerts

Enter your email address to get alerts.


support flaglerlive palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam
news service of florida
FlaglerLive is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization | P.O. Box 254263, Palm Coast, FL 32135 | Contact the Editor by email | (386) 586-0257 | Sitemap | Log in