Thunderbunny Sculpture Damaged by Angry Florida Driver; Matsumi Kanemitsu's Legacy Being Preserved

Thunderbunny, a 14-foot sculpture created by Hunt Slonem, was intentionally crashed into and damaged on May 21.

 

The sculpture, valued at about $300,000, is on loan to the city of Wilton Manors, Florida. It was installed in Justin Flippen Park just about a week before Derek Alan Modrok, 49, drove his car into the base of the sculpture. 

 

Modrok was caught on a surveillance camera, ramming the front of his car into the base of the sculpture, getting out to replace a piece of his front bumper and then taking off.

 

 

Witnesses at the park called the police. It didn’t take them long to locate Modrok, who just a few days before he rammed into Thunderbunny, had vandalized a sign in the same park and had toppled over a sculpture in another park.

 

Thunderbunny is made up of 30,000 glass tiles that are placed on a metal frame. The damage to the base of the sculpture is still being assessed. 

 

According to the Wilton Manors Police, Modrok admitted to the vandalism. He said that he is angry with Justin Flippen, the former Mayor of Wilton Manors. Modrok told police that Flippen is responsible for, “the birds that we hear.” Justin Flippen, for whom the park is named, died of a brain aneurysm in 2020, at age 41. Modrok was charged with three counts of criminal mischief.

 

“It’s very disappointing and shocking,” Slonem told NBC. “The point of the sculpture is to make people joyous and to celebrate life and revere the rabbit.”

 


 

The Little Tokyo Historical Society in Los Angeles is focusing its meeting this month on ways to preserve and disseminate the legacy of Matsumi Kanemitsu, who died in 1992. With the help of Kanemitsu’s life partner, artist Nancy Uyemura, researchers and curators from UCLA, USC and other community institutions are working together to document the life and work of one of the 20th century’s most accomplished artists.

 

There are currently two shows of Kanemitsu’s work on exhibit at major museums; Matsumi Kanemitsu: Figure and Fantasy is currently on exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art through October 8, 2023. Kanemitsu lived and worked in Baltimore in the late 1940s. The exhibit focuses on the artist’s early works, including those that deal with his dual experience as both a prisoner of the U.S. military and an enlisted U.S. soldier who completed a tour of duty in Europe.

 

His works are also being shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) alongside those of Sam Francis (1923-1994), who was profoundly influenced by his travels in Japan in 1957. Sam Francis and Japan: Emptiness Overflowing will be on exhibit at LACMA through July 16, 2023.

 


 

References:

Jo Lawson-Tancred. A Disgruntled Florida Man Just Plowed His Car Into a $200,000 Blue Bunny Sculpture—His Second Time Vandalizing Public Art. Artnet News. May 24, 2023.

Maya Pontone. Florida Man Crashes Car Into 14-Foot Bunny Sculpture. Hyperallergic. May 25, 2023.

LTHS Meeting to Focus on Artist Matsumi Kanemitsu. The Rafu Shimpo. May 27, 2023.

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