Anatomically Correct and Socially Uptight

One of nine bronze sculptures by artist Jorge Marin in Houston.  Try not to look too hard.

One of nine bronze sculptures by artist Jorge Marin in Houston. Try not to look too hard.

In January of 2002, as the United States was still reeling from the calamity of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft became overwhelmed with a more pressing matter: two statutes of partially nude female figures in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice. Feeling undignified being photographed in front of them, he ordered one, “Spirit of Justice,” to be covered. At taxpayer expense, $8,000 worth of drapery shielded unsuspecting viewers from both of the art deco statues. These were the same statues that stood behind former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese in 1986, when he announced findings of a Department of Justice study on pornography.

In recent decades, social conservatives have associated nudity and human sexuality with pornography. The dysfunctional comparison has arisen again in Houston where Mexican artist Jorge Marin has – well – erected nine bronze sculptures of anatomically correct male forms in a park. Collectively entitled “Wings of the City,” the figures have taken up residence in the city’s downtown area. Houston is just the latest major metropolitan area to see Marin’s artwork; he’s exhibited his statutes over 200 times. They stood on México City’s heavily-traveled Paseo de la Reforma where millions of people viewed them.

But, to the easily-offended souls of America’s fourth largest city, the statutes don’t qualify as art; they’re pornography. Get real!

“It’s very inappropriate, seeing that they have a lot of kids here,” resident Trena Cole told the “Houston Chronicle” recently.

“I don’t know that it enhances the park,” another resident, Julie Griffis, who lives nearby, also told the Chronicle. “I don’t think it fits in with the theme.”

Other residents, such as Jim Thomas, don’t see any problem with the statues. “We see them as art,” he told the Chronicle, mentioning one of the most famous anatomically-correct nude male figures of all time: Michelangelo’s “David.”

College student Alan Lima pointed out, “It’s part of the body. What can you do? That’s the way you were born.”

Exactly! That’s how we’re born. There seems to be a growing sense of animosity towards the male physique in recent years. It’s gotten to the point where I often see young men wearing two and three shirts during winter and long pants during summer, while their overweight wives and girlfriends parade around in mini-shorts that make me want to call Green Peace about beached whales. Professional basketball players wear shorts so long and baggy they qualify as split skirts. I’ve heard stories of school boys who won’t shower in the locker rooms after physical education classes because someone might think they’re queer.

If the fools who think the statues are “pornography” could get proctologists to help find their brains, they might want to hop over to Houston’s rougher sides where people are dropping dead from drug use and gun violence. Visit a homeless shelter where children often stay and tell me again you think a nude male sculpture is “pornography.”

There’s nothing pornographic or offensive about the male body. I have plenty of pictures of my body. Videos, too! Oh, wait…that’s a different subject. Anyway, check out Marin’s work and try not to get too upset.

4 Comments

Filed under Art Working

4 responses to “Anatomically Correct and Socially Uptight

  1. Al

    It’s ridiculous. It’s art. Does it mean that the statues made hundreds of years ago are pornography? The world is going to pot (oops could be a drug related issue there) (oops-oops I said drug) and it is stupid. I heard this morning that the series from the 40’s and 50’s that we all grew up with, Tom & Jerry, is being branded as Racist

    • At some point in time, somehow or another, you’re going to piss off somebody. And, when you enter the public sector and publish stuff like blog essays and short stories, there’s a good chance someone will take offense. I learned the hard way it’s absolutely impossible to please everybody. So, let’s just keep doing what we’re doing, and if someone doesn’t like it, they don’t have to read it or look at it!

  2. The flat out ignorance of people is stunning. Art is art. Pornography is something entirely different, while there is nothing inherently wrong with pornography either, I suspect we shouldn’t show it in a public park. Art however, yes we should show it and it should include the human form.

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