Sunday, February 25, 2007

Caution - Idea Crossing Ahead - Caution

Art Censured in Port Salerno? Whats new.

That the foolish, the timid, the incurious, and the ignorant insult free speech again. Why should you care? Because freedom of speech, is the hearts blood of the creative artist.

The First Amendment's guarantee of Freedom of speech establishes the right of the artist to address the issues of our time. It is very very important. It is freedom. That's why it is The First Amendment. When one artist is censored, all artists, all writers are censored.

If we turn our heads away, because it's easier, to hide, silent while the noisy ignorant, silence another nervy artist who dare speak his or her mind, what is lost? Another thread in the fabric of freedom is lost.

Unless we nurture the Bill of Rights, it becomes a dry and dusty figment of our past. We honor it by our defense of each artist. Your freedom, to speak and read the truth depends not on the market place, which prizes the easy, the lowest common denominator. American freedom depends on the solitary, visionary artist's voice.

Our constitution does not exist to protect the tyranny of the majority, but the power of the ideas of a unique creative artist.

A painting, with stars, made of the words of the Bill of Rights was censured.
A painting with red bars, and white stripes, was removed from it's month long gallery posting.

Was there some political message, no, were there words insulting to Americans, no.
They spoke instead directly to unthinking art critics, challenging art gallery patrons with overheard comments like: "This won't match my sofa", or "What is the meaning of this" or "conceptually, I think it's pure genius".

These statements address instead, the experience of art viewing, they were not political commentary. But, someone was offended. [Somebody quick call the police, or better an attorney] The gallery aware, that some might be challenged by the work, yet still agreed to exhibit, and sell the work.

It is a private gallery, and yes, they do have a right to exhibit and sell, what they choose.
They did chose. they chose this piece. But, once they agree to show a piece, they have a responsibility. Yet, under pressure of a few ignorant, narrow minded people, capitulated and removed the piece. Explained as economic pressure, out of fear, it was removed.

What art is safe?

Pictures of fishing? PETA may be offended? Pictures of marshes and swamps, developers might take offense. Charming representations of children with big sad eyes, isn't that too much temptation for certain individuals? Certainly no religious art, the potential for offense is too great.

Maybe anything representational is suspect? Or maybe, just maybe... we should not place the blinders and cages of an ignorant few, on the artists and other grown-ups of our time.

Richard W. Spisak Jr.
Artist, Bill of Rights Advocate
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