Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 11:08 pm | Overcast 58º


Letter to the Editor: ‘Buy Sexual’ Exhibit — and Artists — Deserve Better Fate

I am a professional artist/sculptor and have exhibited widely in private residences, galleries and public spaces, and have judged and hung shows. Although each exhibition has its own standard, there is a general level to which they adhere.

It is beyond my belief that after opening to the public, Santa Barbara County would engage in those actions related to the “Buy Sexual” art piece without discussing and receiving approval from all the affected artist(s).

The art piece containing the words “Buy Sexual” can be given many interpretations. Those who are fighting prostitution may assume it means “buy sex,” which presumes the county condones “prostitution.” Whereas those who daily see the images of sexy men and women selling various products will assign those meanings.

But the majority of people who enter the building where this art work is displayed, along with many other pieces, will assign their own meanings and look on it as another piece of art in the exhibition. However, all of these interpretations are personal and do not necessarily affect the viewer as presumed.

Further, hiding a “forbidden” piece of art next to the rest rooms will not in any manner change its meaning or impact.

It is unthinkable that after the exhibition is on display, that the county or Art Commission would change the exhibition and placement of art pieces to satisfy a few of the occupants of the building containing the exhibition. The only exception might be an unforeseen flagrant violation of known and stated standards.

The “Gallery directors” always have the power at any time to do whatever they decide. However, disregarding the artists’ extensive time, effort, costs and aspirations greatly diminishes all the exhibiting artists now and in the future. And it makes the county exhibition space one that serious artists will come to disregard as suitable for their art interests.

So it becomes a question of county interests, in their desire to run and use an exhibition space.  \Do they want to  show “safe art” where portraits of past officials are celebrated or pretty pictures are painted? Or to show “creative art,” where discussion, creativity and artists are developed?

The best interests of the community and the level of art and the artists in which we reside — is what should be discussed. And meanwhile the exhibition should be returned to its original display.

Mel Zaid
​Santa Barbara

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