When a large statue of the devil sporting an erection appeared overnight in a park near Clark Drive last week, Bryan Newson and his team were “quite amused.”

“It was one of those wonderful, spontaneous interventions by -- I think -- a prankster,” said Newson, the public art program manager for the City of Vancouver. “I couldn’t help laughing.”

Newson told CTV News that the devil got people talking. In that sense, though offensive to some, it could be considered art.

“It has been said that art does not reside so much in the art object or in the viewer, but in the conversation that takes place between the two,” he said. “Insofar as that got a conversation going, that was a very legitimate artistic intervention.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean the city was going to let it stand. The Satan statue was erect for less than 24 hours before city workers hauled it away.

“It obviously could not remain in the public realm,” Newson said.

As of Friday, the statue was still in the city works yard, waiting for its creator to pick it up. In the 11 days since it first made headlines, no fewer than three online petitions have sprung up calling for the statue’s return.

That’s not likely to happen anytime soon. The city has “a very considered process” for spending its $500,000 annual budget for public art, Newson said.

Once a new piece of public art is approved, it’s going to be around for a while. Newson said the city’s official policy regarding new public art is to leave it standing for at least seven years, regardless of the reaction to it.

“You don’t remove any work for the first seven years just because it’s unpopular,” he said.

Among the works of art installed in Vancouver in recent years are giant jellybeans, a big bronze spaceship, some sinister looking giant sparrows, and a porcelain poodle on a pole at 18th Avenue and Main Street that drew the ire of many residents.

Viewer reactions, including negative ones, are part of the purpose of public art, said Ammar Mahimwalla, of Vancouver Biennale.

“Art just brings a space alive,” he said.

Mahimwalla said he thought the Satan statue was well-made and well-installed. He said he understands why the city took it down.

“With the city, sometimes, there is censorship -- at some level -- of what art means and what art is,” Mahimwalla said.