Torrington, Ct PD:
Making The World Safe For Art Viewers
Painting Survives Inspection
By Mayor, Legal Counsel, Police Chief
Police examined the work and asked a gallery volunteer to remove the work ...
Artwell Gallery in Torrington
draws complaint over nude figure
BY TRACEY O'SHAUGHNESSY
TORRINGTON — A stylized painting of a naked woman by Goshen artist Danielle Mailer has survived an obscenity challenge and will remain in the downtown window of Artwell Gallery until the exhibit closes Sept. 13.
But objections to the work have spurred the gallery to hold a public forum on the difference between art and obscenity Aug. 29.
The controversy began the morning of July 25, hours before the opening of Artwell's "Salon des Refusés" exhibit, held at a previously vacant storefront on the corner of Water and Main streets in the heart of downtown. Torrington police responded to an anonymous complaint that "Blue," a life-size, cutout shape of a woman painted with violet breasts and bright cobalt legs might violate the city's obscenity statutes.
Police examined the work and asked a gallery volunteer to remove the work from the window while they investigated the complaint. The volunteer complied. The piece sat in the corner of the gallery until that evening, when Artwell's director of communications heard about the fracas and put the work back.
"I thought it was baloney," said Pam Bogert, who replaced the work. "I don't believe Artwell wants to be known as the art gallery that censors artists."
After consulting with Torrington's corporation counsel, police agreed there was no reason to pull the painting. A police spokesman said the issue had been resolved and that "no action should be taken on this matter should any other complaints be received."
The dispute comes as Torrington is trying to position itself as a major art magnet in Litchfield County. The Warner Theatre, just down the street, recently received a $30,000 Challenge Grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism to support the theater's initiative of promoting the arts downtown.
"Blue" is part of Mailer's silhouette series, which depicts a naked woman striding forward with her arms in the air and a red bird on her head. The figure's violet torso is ornamented with an artichoke, one of Mailer's popular motifs.
The artist, now having a major exhibit at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, is the daughter of author Norman Mailer and his Peruvian wife, abstract artist Adele Morales. Mailer, chairman of the art department at Indian Mountain School in Lakeville, heard about the complaint three days after it was made and immediately offered to cover up part of the figure's breasts.
"I said, 'Absolutely not,'" said Artwell's Bogert. "We're an art gallery. It's a blue and purple woman. It's gorgeous, but it's certainly not realistic. I mean you don't see many blue people walking around."