“Largely a typographic problem”: Art “exhibit” reappears on UF building with a disclaimer

All Photos: Alachua Chronicle


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Although anti-police banners with messages such as “Next step, we burn it down” were removed from a building used by the UF School of Art + Art History after Alachua Chronicle asked questions, the message “F*** off Fascists” has now appeared on the building, alongside a poster that says, “This is artists’ speech, not UF’s speech.”

Banners previously hung on the building

Although the Dean of the College of Arts has not responded to our request for comment on the new “exhibit,” a letter written by Dr. Elizabeth Ross, Director and Associate Professor in the School of Art + Art History, and posted on the building says that the banners were part of an exhibition titled, “Burn It Down: Communications of Resistance” that opened at the 4Most Gallery on Friday, March 10; after questions were received from the media and the UF Police Department asked the College to take down the banners, Ross and the Deans of the College of the Arts “noticed a problem” with the regular signage on the gallery, which Ross said was not large enough to be read by passing drivers and “not sufficient to frame the banners as the speech of artists presented in an art gallery as art. Without that, the banners could easily be interpreted as representing UF’s speech, or as the result of trespassing and vandalism.”

Ross’ letter continued, “We have the right to free speech.” However, she pointed out that the building is leased from the UF Foundation and is subject to UF’s building policies: “Any artwork installed on the building’s exterior must be clearly defined as speech belonging to the artist, not speech by the institution… It was largely a typographical problem.”

Ross wrote that the School reached out to the curator of the exhibit to remove the banners on the morning of March 14, then met with the artists “and began an exploration of how we might put the banners back on display with proper context.”

However, it turned out that the banners had not been installed “in a way that UF Environmental Health and Safety considers safe” because the artists climbed up the side of the building with ladders and worked at the edge of the roof. Ross stated that the School has been trying to find an “affordable protocol” for reinstalling the banners, but they would not be able to figure that out by the time the exhibition closed on March 29. She added, “we have offered to try to reinstall the exhibition with banners at the first opportunity this summer.”

Ross said she fully supports the 4Most Resident who put together the exhibition and said the “attempted banner installation pushed the boundaries of what has been done in the gallery, which is something else we can admire.”

A second letter from Dr. Ross (she, her) was posted after rocks were thrown through the windows of the gallery overnight on March 27. In that letter, Ross said the artists reconstructed the exhibit in the gallery for the closing on March 29: “The new installation largely replaces the original theme of the show with content that is critical of the school, college, and UF. We have censored nothing in the gallery. That we would encourage a show like this–funded with school money, mounted in school space, and supported with resources and cooperation–is the strongest evidence I can offer that we support free speech and artistic expression.”

The poster mounted in a window next to the “F*** off Fascists” message says, “This is artists’ speech, not UF’s speech.” The poster says that the UF College of the Arts and School of Art + Art History encourages civil discourse and diverse viewpoints: “We recognize that artists may express ideas that evoke strong reactions, and although artists’ speech does not represent UF’s speech, we support artists’ right to free expression.”

Another message posted on the plywood reads, “FPS Statement: WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED. Last night, the windows of 4Most Gallery and Warphaus, where our art show Burn It Down: Communications of Resistance is housed, were smashed in a pathetic attempt at intimidation. This show features prisoner artwork, communications from inside, and education about the Florida carceral system. This attack comes less than a week after censorship of our art show by the UF College of the Arts, demonstrating how accommodating to white supremacists empowers them. Fascists can throw rocks, but they are mere pebbles against the abolitionist movement. Solidarity forever.”

  • Typical liberal M.O. – deflect so you have no responsibility. Put something counter to their far left ideologies… someone’s knocking on your door.

    These are the threats to society. I guess these are the other “pests” Florida Pest Control can’t control.

    • That’s “ can’t stop litterbugs”…this artwork is garbage . I

  • Romanticizing and fetishized criminals sounds pathetic. Is it run by loser women who write prisoners, like that crazy Sondra London who wanted to marry Danny Rolling? The building and “art” look super-ghetto. What a feather in UF’s cap.

    • Don talk like that about the prisoners remember the were Trump friends!!! hahaha ..ups!! he will meet them!!! hahahaha!!! who does not appreciate art is an Ignorant!!!

  • Its Gainesville, home of the far left idiots who have nothing better to do but waste parents money. Notice how these idiots never venture north or south of the city to try this. They would only get their feelings hurt.

  • “Dr. Ross (she, her) ” Clearly a false claim of personhood, should be “(it, that).”

    • Why is she even posting her pronouns…what’s the point? To let us know she’s woke and for social justice? What a looney nut job.

  • Mental illness is rampant in the greater Gainesville area. Shame that.

  • Listen these types of individuals- Antifa, BLM, Marxists/Communists- that UF is giving a voice to are incredibly dangerous individuals. Their calling for the abolishment of prisons and police and using inflammatory language like “Burn it down” is all evidence that UF should not be giving individuals like this a voice. Unless, of course, UF is giving them a platform which is shameful for UF. Either way, these type of excuses didn’t work for Afghanistan after 9/11, and it won’t work for UF when they willfully give people with terroristic ideologies a voice.

  • So we need to buy our own building and post our own messages to the UF libs and twits such as: “Hey Libs, You are the product of the accomplish nothing, do no work, live off Mama and Daddy’s bank account!”, “F**k Off Twits”, “Without your Mama and Dada’s money you are nothing”, “Lib Professors have not been taught to teach meaningful/useful coursework, so they smear and call it art”, “More hero Police = > Public Safety.” Really, I don’t even know why these piss ants bother anyone! They have not accomplished a thing and never will! Hollow protests for the benefit of their teacher’s TWITter following!

    If we build a wall around the campus, we increase safety for everyone and decrease interaction with the UF loonies!

    • Send that artwork to all the bullgators to see . My donations to UF are now silenced.

  • If (it, they, them) are so proud why doesn’t (it, they, them) identify themselves by name. Isn’t that what a true artist would do? Guess (it, they, them, alphabet…) are afraid. Just saying.

    • Did she say “UF is accommodating white supremacists” ? If I was her boss. she would be so fired…what a she/her A-hole! Art in public places should be positive and make us all happy…this work is negative and contributive to road rage.

  • That’s a Grad Level art student space. Meaning they became bitter, in debt and hate America for not making them famous yet. So they stayed in skool and became CRT-BLM-Antifa-Trans nut jobs — in even more debt.

  • Someone call code enforcement
    ( dept of doing?) …that’s a sign Code violation .

  • Imagine: No prisons, no police? Im with it….vigilantism.

  • These are your face diaper wearing starbucks baristas creating these signs calling them artwork. By their own definition a swasitka or a confederate flag painted on a sheet is artwork too. These anarchists would lose their minds if those were hung along side of their “artwork”.

  • As a graduate of the UF Fine Arts program (formerly named) years ago when it was an independent department rather than a third leg of the Poly-Sci program, there was a concept that ‘artistic expression’ had a self-evident standing which did not require the branding under ‘freedom of speech.’

    The pragmatic reasons for this were (is) artists usually seek patrons to support the work. That means an exchange of money for art which establishes both aesthetic and market values.

    Political value of art has its place; Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ (1937) is an example of this with the caveat it was a response to a very real, tangible atrocity rather than an abstract, creative opinion.

    The University of Florida, like all higher learning institutions, does have fundamental parameters within which education is provided. The fact it is a ‘liberal arts’ school is one such parameter.

    What then, under that parameter, is considered the fostering of general knowledge and intellectual capacities?

    For a small, and relatively insignificant UF department to exhibit and support the lowest common denominator of speech because it’s ‘free’ defies the purpose of education to instill a higher level of communication using the tools learned at UF rather than an infant’s screams in a nursery.

    Destruction of property is never a ‘correct’ response to ignorance and its many forms of provocation to be fed or have a diaper change.

    Dr. ER’s response is about as parochial as it gets these days in academia as she writes …”That we would encourage a show like this – funded with school money, mounted in school space – is the strongest evidence I can off that we support free speech and artistic expression.”

    There was public money involved as well as the actual ‘space’ being some distance from UF in Gainesville. Both connections are, at best, ambiguous.

    Dr. ER’s evidence of poor judgement is enough to consider replacing her with an adult.

    • “Dr.” ER can’t even string words together for a cogent sentence. 🙄

      • We have reached a point where the education system has produced teachers who can’t do or teach.

        UF is drowning in academic anarchy.

    • Your criticism of the display is well within bounds of the same freedom of expression the show purports to celebrate. Fine. Shutting down what one disagrees with however is not and when being done by the state of Florida across multiple institutions and at the whim of our autocratic small minded governor, something we should all oppose – in the interests of free speech. It’s not the message, which you may agree with one day and another not, it’s the ability which universities especially historically foster and protect.

      • My personal objection is to a call for violence in the first display and the public posting of profanity in the second display. We used to agree that calls for violence were out of bounds in public discourse and that it was inappropriate to use profanity where children could be exposed to it. There is also a discussion to be had about political messaging on the exterior of government-owned buildings, and UF generally does not allow anything to be posted on building exteriors. There is no question that they can post any political messages they want in an exhibit inside the building.

      • Free speech is not absolute. The signage on the exterior of the building was and is inferred to be authored by the University of Florida since no ‘artist’ had the courage to own it. Dr. ER, as a representative of UF, seems to support the anonymous, public appeal for violence.

        There are no free speech interests to be protected there. That the signage was removed clearly concedes that point absent a formal apology to the community rather than a doubling down on how supportive Dr. ER is of that uncreative expression.

        BTW, in Brandenburg V. Ohio (1969) SCOTUS held, “… the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation EXCEPT [sic] where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

        Subsequent case law applies the same standard to anonymous speech.

    • “I’ve seen Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, and you, offensive plywood, are no Guernica.”

  • Yet the building, and no doubt supplies, were provided by UF. I will never give UF another penny. 💸

    • Reluctantly, I too am suspending all financial connections with the alumni association.

      The ‘free speech’ exercise usually gets off its knee when the equally free speech financial oxygen is cut off.

      • The irony is: the sign says “ F!ck you fascists” and they are the fascists…just like ANTIFA…Antifa is the fascist..these people are angry haters trying to express themselves forcibly. Do we have to resort to the F word? Shame on you UF and for anyone who’s trying to pass foul language as artwork. That ain’t artwork, it’s a written political sign done crappy
        And with foul language. Children are gonna drive by and say, “mommy, what does “F you fascists” mean? These people should be ashamed of passing this crap off as art…that’s what it is…crap. We need more beautiful things in this world, not ugly crap.

        • In case it still isn’t obvious to you, “F You, Fascists” was written on the plywood covering one of the windows that were broken by some most likely right-wing extremist schmuck. The main part of the exhibit is *inside* the gallery, genius.

          • Breaking their own windows and putting up the F YOU FASCISTS sign may just be part of the art exhibit. Or, maybe someone busted the windows in an attempt to burglarize the place? That’s another much more likely scenario than MAGA people committing a “hate crime.” In any case, aggrieved parties don’t normally put up signs to publicly curse out the one they have a problem with. That’s a full-on woke-child tantrum. It certainly isn’t normal or defensible behavior to any rational adult.

          • JZ: …you state “the main part of the exhibit is *inside* the gallery”…Which means the outside crap is staged and part of the exhibit. your political statement art exhibit was crap.
            Nobody will buy your crap. When the exhibit is over, throw all your exhibit in the trash where it belongs. Prisons and law enforcement are here to stay!
            Ha ha ha 🤣

  • Why did you add (she/her) in your reporting? Turned me off of the article. Please tell me the Alachua Chronicle is not going “woke”! Also, would be helpful to know the address of this building. I don’t know where it is.

  • The C of G was doing social justice murals….there was the mural with the black guy with fear in his eyes, a face mask on, the Capitol building in the background, and red, white, & blue at that little park off NW 8th Ave & NW
    10th st…. Not the type of thing I want to see at a park or on my way home….The city finally took the monstrosity down after it was improved by the community with Trump graffiti…I think the artist defaced his own artwork to get some free press. Glad it’s gone and peaceful at the park again.

    • I’m not a fan of much of the public art on the sides of buildings downtown – Bo Diddley is OK – but if you are a citizen of Gainesville – I’m not – let your commissioners and whoever is in charge of public art know your feelings. By the way, there is a newly opened exhibit at the Thomas Center which features work by John Ward and Lenny Kessel. The John Ward work is to me particularly good and worth a visit – room just off the back of the Atrium. I am not an art critic, so I guess take my word with that caveat, though I think most would be impressed with the technique, and there is nothing challenging or unpleasant about the subjects.

      • It is Len Kesl, not Lenny Kessel. But thanks for passing along the information.

  • Here’s an obvious question: are the signs, banners, and trite little notes tacked to the building’s wall the ‘art,’ or is there actually something inside the building other than terrified students cowering over their manifesto dratfs while waiting for the imaginary gestapo to take them to the camps?

    Usually, the greater the hype and appeal for attention the more remedial the work.

  • Paste a big UF COLLEGE OF GHETTO ARTS sign to the building. That would be funny.

    • After that UF’s office of DEI office would find a way to throw money at it!

  • It’s an eyesore, not artwork. I guess they don’t know about the “broken window effect” and how this brings the neighborhood down. It’s Not the proper venue…they need to save it for when antifa & blm are rioting and looting when Trump gets re-elected.

  • A group advocating for “burn it down” is upset someone threw rocks through their window? Rich isn’t it! I say burn the MF down!

    • I’m not sure I believe it. The kind of people who come up with this stuff in the first place are the same kind of people who would throw rocks through their own windows to get publicity and play victims of the whyte supremacist boogie man. I’m surprised there’s not a “Jussie Smollett is Innocent!” sign hanging up there next to the others.

      • Oh, yeah!!!! They forgot to say “The rock throwers were wearing MAGA hats!”🤣

  • End prison slavery? That’s a pretty stupid statement…How about: “criminals, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the crime”. I wonder if they filed a police report about their broken windows…

  • This crap is nothing but a huge distraction to any education efforts at UF. Students at UF get the full social justice indoctrination experience while most likely learning very little about their major. Campus on the weekends and holidays is dead EXCEPT for the Chinese. Those Chinese kids are the only ones out at 6am, on Christmas, during break, after hours going to and from their labs. They are using AMERICA to learn and report back information, methods, avenues of access etc to communist China, most likely by order or else.

  • It’s easy to understand why the students masquerading as “artists” want the federal government to forgive their loans. They’re dumb enough to believe this represents art and they also believe a degree in Art will provide sufficient income to be self-sufficient.

  • Wow what a quaint and delightful building exterior that is, UF should be proud.

    • And it’s right across the street from Porter’s, the only remaining historic black neighborhood. I’m not sure they want some deranged woke white lady from Harvard speaking on their behalf. BLM and Antifa were/are a bunch of spoiled kids who don’t have to work (along with a few middle-aged perverts). The same is probably true for this “artist”. Was she raised on the mean streets of Chicago or Detroit, or even in a neighborhood like Porter’s? I seriously doubt it. Virtue signaling shouldn’t count as art.

  • Someone vandalizes their building, and they automatically jump to white supremacists. These looney bins are creating their own narratives and believing it.

    • yeah i’m sure they would never vandalize their own building to advance an agenda and blame it on someone else

  • And these are the exact students that expect everyone else to pay for their worthless degrees. There is nothing artistic or historical about writing graffiti on dorm bed sheets.

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