For a few hours Monday, the bitter face-off between a bull and a girl in New York City got a curious, four-legged interloper: a tiny pug, with one of those legs suggestively raised beside the girl's leg. There was no urine, no caustic caption, but it was clear where the dog's disdain was directed.
The statue's placement by sculptor Alex Gardega marks an odd, if brief, digression in a contentious chapter that's been unfolding off Wall Street for months. It was there that the financial district's nearly three-decade-old Charging Bull confronted a new arrival earlier this year: the statue of a defiant girl, hands placed firmly on hips and chin thrust forward against the bull's implied threat.
The artist behind the bull, Arturo Di Modico, has not appreciated the installation of Fearless Girl, a work designed by Kristen Visbal and commissioned by an international investment firm State Street Global Advisors.
The firm says it intended the girl as a means to "to raise awareness and drive a conversation around the need to improve gender diversity in corporate leadership roles." Di Modico, however, feels the new statue mutates his long-celebrated bull into a villain for the sake of "an advertising trick."
If his disdainful pug wasn't indication enough, Gardega made clear to NBC News' affiliate in New York which side of the dispute he is on.
"I have a lot of empathy for the creator of the bull, Arturo," Gardega told NBC on Tuesday. "I'm a pretty happy person, not seething or angry and certainly not anti-feminist. My piece is not without a sense of humor. There is plenty of room for Fearless Girl; it just interferes with another artists work/vision."
In an interview with the New York Post, he called Fearless Girl — which recently had its temporary permit renewed by the city through 2018 — "corporate nonsense."
"It has nothing to do with feminism, and it is disrespect to the artist that made the bull," he said.
Visbal did not immediately make a public comment about the dog's placement.
If nothing else, Gardena's pug joins a tradition of imposition established by the two statues it briefly came between: Fearless Girl was set up overnight opposite the Charging Bull against the wishes of Di Modico — who, in turn, initially set up his own bull overnight outside the New York Stock Exchange in the late 1980s, also against that institution's wishes.
As one might imagine, though, the dog did little to ease the dispute. A quick glance at Twitter confirms the inflamed frustrations on either side.
At any rate, the little dog is gone now, picked up after several hours by Gardega since, as he tells NBC, he "certainly had no rights to bolt it to the ground."
The bitter face-off between Di Modica and the Fearless Girl's many defenders, though — that remains standing as firmly as the two statues themselves.