Friday, May 22, 2009

Governing Morality

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.

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