Naked statue in Tempe by Bill Tonnesen of Venus of Willendorf causes controversy

TEMPE, AZ - A new Valley statue is causing quite a stir, all because of where it's located.

The statue was created by Bill Tonnesen, a Tempe contractor who placed a statue of a large, naked woman on one his properties near Rural and Broadway roads in Tempe.

The statue is supposed to resemble a historical figurine called the Venus of Willendorf.

"I love it," Tonnesen said. "I'm crazy about it."

Not everyone, however, is on board with the idea. The statue sits across the street from a pre-school and church.

"I think the placement of it makes it an issue," said Tempe resident Michael White.

White said he could imagine some parents and church-goers becoming upset.

"To have [the statue] on the side of the street in such open viewing space is a topic of concern, actually," he said.

Tonnesen told ABC15 he recently won approval from the city to keep the statue, and said he believes everyone should view it as art, rather than an obscenity.

"Maybe I'm being naïve," he said. "But I don't get the nudity being [a problem]."

Tonnesen has several other sculptures that sit on properties around the Valley and plans to keep this one up, as well.

However, it currently sits draped under a blanket, as Tonnesen's wife doesn't approve of the statue's location.

"She's not happy," he said.

That's because she is a member of the church and Tonnesen said she wishes he would place it somewhere else.

"Until I can work something out with my wife, we're going to leave it covered," he said.

Print this article Back to Top