Saturday, April 26, 2014

Thursday April 24, 2014


That’s bad, right?   Everyone should have their say.  Or at least the right to.
Yes.  Its what makes America great.  We have the FREEDOM to say or print everything and anything we want to.  Everyone wants to be heard.

We've heard the adage: “Everyone is entitled to my opinion.”   But… does everyone want to hear it? 

If it’s in the paper, and they don’t like that opinion, people have the RIGHT to turn the page, or not pick up that paper at all.  If it’s on the TV, and you find it offensive you can turn the channel.  If it’s art, it’s up for interpretation.  With large pieces of art, I suppose, they don’t have to look at it.  Locally this has come to a head this week.

 I AM entitled to my opinion.  Here it is.

A little background:  Our county is a fairly conservative county.   We have always had ARTISTS around, but for the most part, it’s been a dry-art county.  Until the last 10 years, you had to mail order art supplies or travel a ways to just get art materials.  There are no art museums and no way to really express your art here.  That, thank goodness, is changing.  People seem surprised that there is all this wonderful talent in our county.  Their eyes are finally opening.  The talent has been here all along.  Now we finally getting a venue to showcase it.  This county is finally giving our art efforts a little room.

The County Seat has been trying to be a little more artsy.  We now have monthly and yearly art showings and the artists are coming out of the walls and collaborating!  They even have sculptures downtown on display all year.  

One of the new sculptures was there just a few days before there were complaints and the city blue-tarped it over until it could be removed. 

 Which brings me to my opinion, already:

I like to think I am like most artists that have a more open mind than most. Regardless of what I think of this statue, (and my first thought, I admit, was sexual) there is a lot, AND I MEAN A LOT of art that centers around sexuality.  So be it.  One of the most wonderful things about art is it means different things to different people.   It’s up to interpretation.  It is something different to everyone.
Once I read what the artists mindset was, I gave it the benefit of the doubt, as I can look at it from that angle with a little more open mind.  He felt that it shows that everyone leans on someone at one point or another.  OK, I'll give him that.  But unless someone can get that explanation to anyone who may walk by it, its up to the interpretation of the looker.

In a bigger town, this would hardly be a blip in the news.  Around here, its BIG NEWS.  It’s been in every newspaper and TV station around.   The conservative people in this county are jumping all over this.  They may not quite be ready for ‘those artists’ to push the envelope of what is acceptable to closed minds.  I’m not sure the ratio of close minds to open minds is even equal yet.

People are calling names and belittling the responses of this piece. " If you think its sexual you have a dirty mind."  "Turn your head if you don't want to see it."  

So, I wonder how they would mind if something offensive was put in their front yards, and someone saying, "walk around it.  Don't look at it.  Its going to stay right there!"
Art evokes things in people. Good and bad.  

So, because I am an artist, and I display at our regularly scheduled monthly art event, I am being asked to wear a blue tarp during my display.   I am not going to abide.  And I’ll tell you why.

I am not PRO - Censorship, nor am I ANTI- Censorship,  but I try to have some common sense.  I believe everyone has a right to construct any art they want.   TV has a right to air any program they want to.  However, call me old-fashioned but x rated programming would do better in a NON Prime time spot.  (Have you seen primetime TV lately? Yep, so have your kids!)

Yep, the rules of this great land of ours says you can SAY anything you want but we have learned that what you say CAN and DOES affect other people, right?  So YES, you have freedom of speech, but a wise person knows if you want a peaceful life, you just try not to offend.  So yes, say what you want, paint what you want, but you should pick the right audience. 

I have been an elected official.  A good elected official tries to do what is in the best interest of his territory.  THAT should always be the deciding factor.   As a taxpayer myself, I use my opinion to let my elected officials know what I think.  It’s my taxpayers RIGHT to let them know!  Municipal officers are always getting feedback on the feelings of their constituents.  If a number of the residents have an opinion about something, a good one will sit and listen.  After all, I would want them to listen to me and my concerns.  SO, when maybe we have put something out there that didn’t mean to be offensive, but the walkers-by thinks it is, it would be my duty to not only listen, but to do something about it. 

Does that mean that the piece shouldn’t have been constructed by that artist?  Hell no.
Does that mean that the piece is offensive?  Not necessarily.  
Does it mean that the governmental entity should have it destroyed?  NO, THAT WOULD BE CENSORSHIP.
Does that mean that putting it across the street of one of the biggest churches in town  might be a bad idea? 
This piece was between the Police Station, the Public Library, and two doors down from City Hall.   
It’s also across the street from the Church where right after you have services, you walk out the doors and see it.  That just doesn’t float with the church ladies.
If it’s at first perceived as being crude, whether it was meant to be or not, is it what you want dignitaries seeing first as they visit?  

 Location.  Location.  Location.
(Makes me wonder if they would have put it in a different location to begin with, if we would even be having this discussion.)

As a mother of two, I am very grateful that my kids are now adults with opinions of their own, and I don’t have to walk by on the way to the library and have to answer the question of what the people in the statue were doing.  (Pre artist explanation)   These days, with primetime as it is, and so much out there for kids to see, there has been innocence lost.  They learn way too early and I hate that the kids these days have to fight for the sweetness of just being a kid.   

This county has simple values.  We are more Rural than Metro, more traditional than edgy.  More wait and see than cutting edge.   Maybe the fact that we are a county of small towns the people tend to take more ownership of their towns.  There are good things about that too.  Are we ever going to be able to display a piece like this?  I hope so.  Is the time now?  I’m thinking not.

I don’t see this as governmental censorship, and neither do I see it as a tarp-wearing sign-carrying reason to protest.  Move the piece to a more appropriate place, or better yet, to a place where its appreciated. Personally, as an artist, I would much rather have my art displayed somewhere that there are people who love it than somewhere it isn’t wanted.

Ok, so I am not INTO shock and awe.  I also don’t watch Reality TV.  I try not to make a issue where there isn’t necessarily an issue.   I don’t think the Bill of Rights has been infracted upon here, but taking away peoples opinion is also censorship of another kind and another power push of its own.

My opinion is my opinion, and I am not going to fight about it.  I don’t want it to become at odds with anyone.  

I may be at the age where I’ll pick my battles.  I don’t think this is one.

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