Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Did you ever have a rash that you have taken care of, used the ointments and creams and it fades and disappears only to come back again? That is what living in small town America as an artist feels like.
Almost 10 years ago my wife and I were driving looking for a house to buy, we drove through this small town, about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. It was quaint, quiet and so picturesque. It seemed an ideal place to relax, live and raise a family. What you don't see until you actually live and work in a place is the seedy underbelly. The small town politics where a not so big man wants to be even bigger by stepping on everyone else.
That is the situation I am faced with. Six years ago I had a store front studio that was on a commercial street next to the town bar and across the street from a convenience store. The location was not ideal but the space was adequate and my business took off. then I put a very cute display in my window, a woman in lingerie to promote my Sensual Portraits. It was a few weeks before Valentine's Day and it was a solid marketing idea. Little did I know that now, six years later I would still be suffering for that display.
I am now the town pornographer. I have been called that in public by the very people who run this town. The people who are supposed to help and promote small business.
There are numerous vacant store fronts in this town, the slower economy is really felt here and to have this blatant slander happen, doesn't help to promote my portrait and wedding work.
I knew as an artist not everyone would like my nudes, but they are not pornographic, even though personally I see nothing wrong with pornography as long as it is consensual between the models and also legal.
It seems these so called leaders of the community feel that they can legislate morality and use their protections against law suits to slander a businessman who is struggling and whose images they may not particularly like.
So now, I am faced with the rash again, I have moved my studio, removed my art nudes to a separate website but it seems that is not good enough.
last November the liberals in America came out in force to elect a president and Congress that does not lean severely right. But in a town where here a local supermarket is close on Sunday and if you don't go to church on Sunday you are considered odd, censorship and pushing a right winged morality is considered OK.
For what ever reason, the magical switch that a lot of Americans thought would be throw changing the constrictive conservative views of the nation, never happened.
Will it ever? Will we ever change the puritanical views of a nation who is so hypocritical and self righteous? Maybe, I have hope. Just not today, not in small town America and not when you photograph naked people.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
According to the Washington Post, President Obama is trying to make good on his promise to energize and reinvigorate the National Endowment for the Arts.
President Obama yesterday announced his intention to nominate Rocco Landesman, a Broadway producer and theater owner, to head the National Endowment for the Arts. Also, last week, the White House asked Congress to give the NEA $161.3 million in 2010, the highest request in recent years. Currently the NEA's budget is $155 million.
In the 1990's Congress took away many of the individual artists' grants. According to Steven D. Lavine, the president of the California Institute of the Arts and a member of an arts advisory committee during the Obama campaign,said
"It's a wonderful appointment. He will be persuasive and fight for the arts. And the first thing he'd put on the NEA chairman's to-do list would be to "rebuild the individual artists' grants"
“It’s potentially the best news the arts community in the United States has had since the birth of Walt Whitman,” said the playwright Tony Kushner. “He’s an absolutely brilliant and brave and perfect choice for the job.”
Choosing Mr. Landesman, signals that President Obama plans to shake things up at the endowment. While a major source of money for arts groups around the country, it has historically been something of a non entity and in the middle of many artistic wars in the 90's. I remember the firestorm when the NEA pulled it's funding for Robert Mapplethorpe's exhibition, "The Perfect Moment". Blatant censorship on the part of the NEA.
Of course before any of this can happen the Senate has to approve the nomination. Which we all know can be "interesting" at best.
So it is my hope that Mr. Landesman's appointment is the kick in the ass the NEA needs to start providing grants to the art world and keep the arts alive in the USA.
Photo courtesy of Keyur Khamar/Bloomberg News