April 3, 2009

Inappropriate Fountain - Kansas City, Missouri

Outside of the Starbucks in the Plaza of Kansas City is a thoroughly inappropriate fountain called "Boy and Frog." Why is this fountain inappropriate? If you can't tell from the picture, it is a naked young boy with his frog. When turned on, the water sprays from the little boy's peep into the frog's mouth. It is a little boy peeing in a frog's mouth! How is that appropriate for public viewing?!

I first saw the fountain when my friend Anna came to visit me last year. We went to the Plaza and to look at all high-fashion things we couldn't afford and be "ladies who lunch." For those who don't know, ladies who lunch are the ostentatious well-kept wives of wealthy business men. They don't really do anything except shop, look good, and go out to lunch to gossip with their friends. We found a nice little Italian bistro that looked like a place kept women would go. Turns out we were right. While Anna and I were enjoying a nice lunch, we overheard a group of first wives gossiping about the trophy wives who were being forced into their circle of acquaintances. Thus confirming the Plaza is the hangout for Kansas City's ladies who lunch.

After lunch we went to get some coffee. That was when we saw it. A boy peeing into a frog's mouth. We both stared for a while, trying to be sure of what we were seeing. Then I looked around for someone else who was shocked by the fountain, but nothing. People were buying their lattes and going on their way. Apparently public depictions of little boys peeing in the mouths of amphibians is okay in Missouri.

It was originally sculpted by Raffaelo Romanelli and was acquired for the Plaza in Florence, Italy in 1928 by John C. Taylor, the chairman of the J.C. Nichols Company. I'm all for artistic expression and extremely opposed to censorship, but I'm struggling to get what the creative merit to this fountain is. It is an allegory for something? A political statement? No, it is just a boy peeing in a frog's mouth. So everyone say it with me now - Romanelli, what the hell is wrong with you?!


  1. I've seen this fountain =)

    But to answer your question, nudity in regards to children statuary typically means purity or innocence. It is indeed a deliberate effort to make a statement to that effect.

    Statuary of ceribums and cupids also convey this in some cases.

    Now in regards to adults, the symbolism of nakedness takes on a completely different tone.

    Since the adult male is defiled (no longer pure), nakedness is more symbolic of man's "spirit".

    Or to put it a better way, a naked man statuary represents mankind minus worldly possessions.

    Nude women statuary can go in numerous directions - but usually it involves fertility or procreation.

    Of course these are generalities, there is no hard and fast rule for statuaries or their use with fountains.

    Be mindful however a generation ago, people truly looked at the nudity of a child much, much differently than they do today.

    Pedophelia was not nearly as rampant and the tools did not exist to perpetuate the activity. The internet has really enabled pedophiles to develop a mere curiosity into a full blown addiction. And with this change in our society, statuaries and fountains like the one in this article will begin to questioned more and more.

  2. @Girl: Yeah, I can see the PETA slogan now!
    Anti-Abuse of Amphibians in Aquatic Art!

    @Danny Vice: It's not the nakedness of the young boy that bothers me. It's that he's peeing in a frog's mouth. That's just gross!

  3. Gotcha. Never noticed that. Then again, the smaller fountains don't seem to be working half the time anyway. At least not when I get myself down there.

    At least the city decided to keep them on this year.

    With all the wasteful spending going on in KC, it would have angered a lot of people if they shut off the one thing everyone enjoys.

    It's amazing how much nutty politics can go on in our town.

  4. It's funny and whimsical. Not inappropriate or shocking. I'm willing to bet you're in the minority on this.