Chaos, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, oh my!

Chaos, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, oh my!

Well, folks, I am absolutely overwhelmed and in utter chaos. Why?

I am having a yard sale this weekend.

Oh god, why do we do this to ourselves, all for a little extra cash? Ahem. Yes, it’s that little extra cash that makes us drool, and overprice the buddha head we bought at Ross last year, or the darkened and battered loaf pans that have perhaps too many references to failed bread in their corners.

The yard sale is in preparation, of course, for our move to Maui, of which you heard in my last post. And while the goal is sweet, the journey is NOT.

So instead of a post about my art, today you going to get a little information that I find amusing.

The Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center (Cincinnati being my home town) is having an exhibition of Patti’s Smith’s entitled: The Coral Sea.

This from the CCAC’s website:

patti web

An exhibition highlighting Smith’s role as both poet and visual artist, featuring works never before exhibited in the U.S.

Opening Celebration: May 17 at the CAC
Patti Smith: The Coral Sea is part homage to Robert Mapplethorpe, part rumination on art, death and rebirth. Smith conceived of the multi-installation show as a progression from the white Infirmary to the stark black The Coral Sea Room. Infirmary evokes a hospital ward. The installation comprises two metal WW1-era hospital beds, various drapings and works on paper. It was shown in 2008 at the Melbourne International Arts Fair, but has been expanded and retooled to be site-specific to the CAC.The Coral Sea Room was created for Fondation Cartier, also in 2008. It is a room within a room, cordoned off by full-length black curtains. As an object, the exterior aesthetically references the Kaaba in Mecca. Outside the room are several silverprints. Inside are benches for seating, offering the visitor an area to listen to the audio (a performance of The Coral Sea by Smith and Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine) and view two projections, one on a vertical screen and one projecting down onto a bed of leather and metal.”

I adore Patti Smith. The first time I ever saw her was on the Mike Douglas Show in 1977. That was pretty revolutionary for Mike at the time, as Patti was definitely an “alternative” artist, poet, and performer. You can see one of her performances here:

But Patti was also the ex-lover of a little known (at the time) photographer by the name of Robert Mapplethorpe. And therein lies the amusement.

In 1989 Mapplethorpe exhibited a collection of his sexually charged photographs in a show titled “The Perfect Moment,” which shook the foundations of the contemporary art world. In fact, it resulted in a host of arrests and indictments of curators hoping to move the art world forward. And in fact, The Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center exhibited the collection to much controversy.  (Ya think? An ultra-conservative town like Cincy?) To quote one of the articles written about it, albeit ten years later:

Mapplethorpe battle changed art world
Ten years later, both sides claim their victories

By Jackie Demaline, The Cincinnati Enquirer

Art vs. obscenity made great live drama in Cincinnati 10 years ago, when Dennis Barrie and the Contemporary Arts Center were indicted for pandering obscenity hours after the opening of the photography exhibit, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment.


You can read the entire article here:

There were other museum curators and directors arrested and indicted as a result of hosting the show.

Oh how times have changed, haven’t they?

If you are in the Cincinnati area I highly recommend going to see Patti Smith’s exhibit. I wish it were coming to Seattle. But then, where would it show?

That’s the subject for a different discussion.

Til we meet again, Aloha!

Leave a Reply