116 Cincinnati, OH: Prospect Street , Gloucester

Cincinnati, Ohio: Prospect Street, Gloucester

I had visited Cincinnati's art museum once before. In 1990, I asked my cousin who I was visiting there what to do while I was in town. She smiled wryly, sucked on her cigarette, and said, "You could always go see the Mapplethorpe show."

"I thought they closed it down."

"They had to open it back up while the court decides."

I ran over to the museum to see in person the show that launched the early-1990s tempest about national funding of the arts. I discovered to my disappointment that I had already seen the show a couple of months earlier at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. I had assumed that this show which caused such contentiousness in Cincinnati couldn't be the one that showed without much fanfare in Chicago. But it was.

When I saw the show's photographs at the Cincinnati museum, I had all to myself a gymnasium-sized room full of Mapplethorpe's large portraits and prints of beautiful flowers. Snaking back and forth through the room was a long line of gray-haired ladies scowling and clutching purses, waiting to see the folders with the small "dirty pictures."

"Every time we make the national news, Cincinnati looks like a horse's behind," my cousin lamented. In the same year, they made national news when a little old lady who had freshened someone's expired parking meter got ticketed by a Cincinnati cop. Cinci is also where eleven fans were killed in a rush for seating at a 1979 Who concert, and in 2001, there were race riots downtown when a black man got shot by a white policeman.

1 comment:

scott davidson said...

Wow. Fantastic monster there. The urbanity monster striding forth, as it does in most cities of the world. Nice hand-drawn banner too. Something like this image, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-7Z9RQ8 , by French painter Fernand L├ęger, maybe effective painted large on a wall too, acknowledged as a copy of course. It can be seen at wahooart.com and a canvas print of it can be ordered from there