I’ve got three words for you, folks – Mapplethorpe Mapplethorpe Mapplethorpe – remember him? Back in the Reagan-weird eighties, there was a HUGE controversy about the absolutely horrible idea that “the government” was going to fun an exhibit of “pornography” at a major modern urban American Art gallery with – horrors – taxpayers money!

Now let’s be clear – the government didn’t fund Mapplethorpe (or the ducky) directly – they funded the institution (museum, festival group) which was responsible for planning, which then made a choice that did not please absolutely everyone. (Never mind that there is no such thing, anyhow).

In the case of Mapplethorpe – we’re talking about one of the finest artists in the history of American photography, right up at the top echelon – and the work being exhibited was not of course pornography – they were simply nudes.

The real controversy was because some of the images in Mapplethorpe’s show dared to portray black male bodies as beautiful (just as he’d challenged conventions of female strength and beauty, working with the very political bodybuilder Lisa Lyon, a few years earlier).

Some people can’t handle the idea that a human body is beautiful – or think only certain groups of them are acceptable for an appreciative aesthetic gaze – but the fact is, no modern-art gallery on earth has ever planned their program with those people in mind.

You know why? Because if they did plan that way, they’d soon close up for good! Gripe as they so often do – those folks don’t actually bother going to modern art galleries at all. Which makes their perennial criticisms nonsense, right from square one (ignorant interference with the pleasure of others).

In the same basic category as inviting vegetarians to supervise Rib-Fest!

About matters of taste, there can be no argument. (De gustibus non est disputandum). The Romans had this (like so many things) sussed nicely.

And trust me – for those who really do like the idea of over-scale silliness and plunging into insanely huge crowds down at the waterfront, the results were indisputably positive – so much so that they estimate more folks showed up on day-one, than usually attend for the entire three-day long-weekend festival!

Nice boost, considering how badly they’ve been hit with rain and flooding.

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