Artist behind controversial display in Holley parade apologizes

(WHAM photo)

Holley, N.Y. (13WHAM) - Peter Gewerz says he never meant to offend anyone with his artwork.

A piece of that artwork was on a float he made for Holley's June Fest parade over the weekend. Many say that artwork was racist, as it appeared to feature a black baby doll hanging from a tree.

"I just figured it was another little thing I have of my artwork - never intending to do anything wrong, or harm anybody or to offend anybody," said Gerwerz.

The artwork is something he calls a "treehugger." He describes it as a doll, painted brown to match the wood of a tree.

Several were fastened to trees around his yard when 13WHAM spoke to Gewerz Monday night.

Gewerz says he never would've included it in his float if he knew others would be hurt by it.

"I apologize if I offended somebody," he said. "That’s not me. I mean that from the bottom of my heart."

Gewerz says if anyone had told him before the parade to remove the display, he would have.

Holley's mayor, Brian Sorochty, is taking the blame for allowing the display in the parade, whether Gerwerz realized his artwork was offensive or not.

"There’s still a level of appropriateness the floats have to have to be part of this event, and we should’ve caught that," said Sorochty.

Sorochty says organizers were extremely busy with other tasks ahead of the parade. But he admits there needs to be a check of floats ahead of time.

"Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, our job at the end of the day should’ve been to look for that and catch it, and make sure it was removed," the mayor said.

Sorochty says he plans on assigning two people to check the floats before next year's parade.

Gerwerz says he doesn't plan on participating in any more parades.

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