Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Media & Censor This 2

So it has been just over two full weeks since my exhibition, Censor This 2 opened at the ArtHouse Lounge in Harrisburg, PA, and a few local media outlets have picked up the story.
The Patriot-News newspaper and the ABC affiliate channel 27 in Harrisburg.

Both did a story on the exhibition, in the case of the Patriot-News, they did multiple stories before it even opened, plus had a reporter at the opening reception.

In both cases the stories were about erotic art in general and the gallery owner used them as publicity to promote the gallery saying how open he is to all different sorts of artwork. The articles were straight forward, focused on the nudity aspect and the sexual content.

The ABC news story ran with the reporter walking around talking about how they can't show the art, how the gallery owner does not censor art, but actually nothing about the quality of the work. The reporter actually never showed his face in the piece. He mentioned that he looked at the images...twice. He went on to talk about how there was no protest, he seemed disappointed, and then talked about the provocative poses and my use of what he called props. At which time the camera zooms into a pair of leather hand cuffs. Then he made a tongue-in-cheek comment that it seemed, "no one was harmed during the making of the exhibit and that some enjoyed it very much."

So I am not sure whether to be happy that my name got on the news or upset that they honestly did not take it seriously. They never talked about my artist statement, or why I chose to do this exhibition. In fact they never spoke to me at all. They only interviewed the gallery curator.

The funny part about all of this is that the gallery curator never saw the work until I actually hung it. But he did give me cart-blanch to show whatever I wanted. So you have to give credit where credit is due.

My concern is that is was publicized in a very distasteful manner and that the news media tried to sensationalize it or worse yet, joke about it.

So is it possible, in the United States, to get accepted as a "real" artist and shoot erotic images?

The market for art photography is a small portion of the art market as a whole, then divide out the people who like nudes and then divide out further those who like erotica, you end up with an extremely small population of erotic nude art enthusiasts. So the handling of the media has to be very carefully crafted. In this case, the gallery just took the publicity and ran with it. With no regard to my artistic integrity.

I guess I should be grateful, the images have gotten out of my brain and onto a gallery walls.

But I keep asking myself, at what cost?

What do you think? Let me know.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Censor This 2" Opens Tomorrow

Well, tomorrow is the day. Six months of work is now all boxed up and ready to get hung on the gallery walls in Harrisburg.

The publicity has been out for just over a week and already the gallery is getting hate mail and I am getting disparaging emails and nasty blog posts and no one has seen any of the work yet. I really love how people criticize things before they even see them or give them a chance. Why is it that the narrow minded Americans seem to have the biggest mouths?

I have received phone calls by the  local Harrisburg newspaper  to interview me and the local CBS TV affiliate will be at the gallery Saturday as we hang the show for a story. Again, all this buzz for images that no one has even seen!

Normally, before an exhibition I am pumped up and a bit nervous. My photos are my babies and at the opening they are exposed to the world and on their own. With this show, and all the pre-game hype I really feel ambivalent.

Does the work warrant all this hype? I mean it's just my artwork, my way of expressing my feelings. Yes, this show is more raw and erotic than past shows but really, hate mail?

I am proud of these images and am looking forward to the opening but I really am not as excited as I think I should be. But I'm not nervous either, I kind of just want it to happen and be done.

Maybe my focus has changed since my wife's cancer. Let's face it none of this shit means anything without her. And the thought that I could have lost her to cancer if she wasn't on top of things and didn't have wonderful doctors has made me realize what really matters in this world.

Like Rick said to Ilsa in that famous scene in Casablanca:
I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
So let's see if the opening validates my months of work, at least I am proud of the work I am hanging.
I really hope that I get to meet some new people. So please come out and say hello.

If you are in the Harrisburg, PA area check out the exhibition at the ArtHouse Lounge, 217 N. 2nd St. It runs from August 14th through September 11th.
A percentage of any sales from this exhibit are being donated to the Susan G. Komen, 3-Day Walk for a Cure, to find a cure for breast cancer.

For more information visit ArtHouse Lounge website - http://arthouselounge.com

Friday, August 6, 2010

Proposition 8, unconstitutional

Normally, my blogs are about photography, art and censorship. I have sometimes touched on reality TV and other issues I just find ludicrous.  But after the events of this past Wednesday I feel I need to write about something a bit more substantial.
Now as a married, heterosexual male, you might not automatically think I have any interest in the subject of gay marriage. But for many years I have been a staunch supporter. Having many gay friends, who have been in relationships a lot longer than my three marriages combined, I see what true love in the face of a discriminating country can due..

On Wednesday, August 4th, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled  that the California's Proposition 8 ballot initiative denying marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional.  Judge Walker said, it is "unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses."

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger applauded the ruling, saying it "affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves."

First off, what I find interesting is that the Governor is Republican, albeit a moderate Republican and that Judge Walker was a Republican appointee.

This 136 page ruling was crafted very very carefully. The judge knows that it will be appealed and the appeal will probably go all the way up to the Supreme Court. He made quite a few statements in his closing directed to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Kennedy has been the swing vote on a number of cases brought before the court which is very divided. it will be very interesting to see how the court handles this case.

In speaking about the case brought before him, Judge Walker stated that the defense, in favor of the ban, brought only one expert witness in front of the Court and that this witness was no expert at all. He stated their case was weak and the reason that California voters narrowly voted for Prop 8 was out of fear and ignorance.

Previous court decisions have established that the ability to marry is a fundamental right that cannot be denied to people without a compelling rationale, Walker said. Proposition 8 violated that right and discriminated on the basis of both sex and sexual orientation in violation of the equal protection clause.

But of course, there are the ultra conservatives, the Rush Limbaughs of this country, who see this as nothing more as a pawn to destroy the American Constitution. Limbaugh said, " gay political activists... are being used by the overall leadership of the American left." he continued to say that," the left uses issues such as gay marriage as battering rams to wreck the US Constitution."

Did he NOT read the part about equal protections and due process?

The chairman of the National Organization of Marriage, (didn't know there was such a thing) stated:
Here we have an openly gay (according to the San Francisco Chronicle) federal judge substituting his views for those of the American people and of our Founding Fathers who I promise you would be shocked by courts that imagine they have the right to put gay marriage in our Constitution.
Personally I think the founding fathers would be shocked by the internet or women wearing pants!

Then of course we have Newt Gingrich who said:
Today's notorious decision also underscores the importance of the Senate vote tomorrow on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court because judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.
So now, becasue Judge Walker is trying to protect all American's right to due process and equality he and any other liberal judge is a threat to our society. Hey Newt, remember, all American's not just your favorites.

And then we have the general, scared,  America public who have made comments like, "I'm very upset. I feel like I don't live in America."
Well maybe that is a good thing. Most other countries feel we are backwards in our thinking about sexuality and marriage anyway.

Oh, and the Pope weighed in too. The Pope stated: Gay Marriage is one of ‘the Most Insidious and Dangerous Threats to the Common Good Today’

Hey Bennie, did you forget the hundreds or maybe thousands of children molested by Catholic priests over the years? Maybe THAT is a dangerous threat to the common good?

Another thing written by Judge Walker in his ruling was, "The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage." I have to agree, the days of the man being the hunter and the obedient wife staying home to raise the kids has been over for a long time. It is just now that the courts are catching up with what is already taking shape in this nation

Equal treatment and government benefits for gay and lesbian couples should not be based on whether couples is a "traditional" male/female couple. The Proposition 8 ruling is a victory for family diversity of all types of orientations, not just gay.

This battle is far from over and will make the news until it finally gets decided on my the Supreme Court.
I for one hope that this tide of unity and equality continues through the country and that it rolls into the Supreme Court and comes out victorious.